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Recently, members of a House panel questioned John Henshaw, Assistant Secretary of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration about criminal prosecutions, employer payment for personal protective equipment, and promulgating safety and health regulations. However, the Subcommittee Chairman had some words of praise for OSHA regarding their efforts to work with businesses. The agency’s Voluntary Protection Program was cited as the foremost example of such efforts during the hearing held on February 26, 2004.

Subcommittee Chairman Ralph Regula (R-Ohio) offered some praise for the agency for changing business perceptions of OSHA. "I don't get nearly as many contacts from employers feeling they're being unduly put upon," Regula told Henshaw.

While Henshaw admitted that "there are employers out there who only respond to enforcement," he pointed out the types of efforts OSHA uses to reach employers, including compliance assistance measures.

Henshaw said OSHA needs to continue to make a business case showing that safety improves productivity and quality. Specifically, he mentioned the agency's Voluntary Protection Program, and said the agency wants to showcase employers that have excellent safety records. Henshaw said that as of Jan. 31, there were 1,036 work sites, both federal and state, participating in OSHA’s VPP.

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