Just when you thought the days of Big Government were over, a federal agency does something that is ... well, stupid. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration is giving credence to the fringe element that says ``no government is good government'' by trying to force its Cooperative Compliance Program on the business world. Companies that don't join the program by Feb. 17 will win a spot on the agency's ``primary inspection list'' for comprehensive safety and health probes.
The National Association of Manufacturers, one of four business associations suing OSHA over the issue, calls the agency's actions ``ambush rulemaking.''
The NAM is being too nice. It's blackmail.
The OSHA program isn't inherently bad. Based on pilot programs from three states, the CCP would give companies that operate in high-risk businesses—determined by the number of worker's compensation claims—the chance to identify and correct workplace hazards, and cut injuries and illnesses.
In reward, OSHA will remove participating companies from the primary inspection list, greatly reducing their chance of being investigated.
That's a reasonable benefit, and we have no problem with it. But the strong-armed tactics to get the 14,000 other companies that haven't signed on to the program makes little sense.
The CCP should be a voluntary cooperative effort. If the reward for joining the program isn't good enough to attract companies to participate, sweeten it. There's no need to bludgeon non-participants with threats of higher inspections: If fewer companies are on the ``higher inspection'' list because of their participation in CCP, the companies outside the program mathematically would have a greater chance of getting selected for an inspection, anyway.
OSHA should realize honey will attract more participants than the hammer. The program should be changed.