Department of Labor

OSHA’s Web Initiatives: reaching critical stakeholders with social media and readily-available web-based technologies

In addition to the traditional methods of outreach, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is committed to using innovative web based initiatives to disseminate information and gather feedback. Web chats, virtual stakeholder meetings, and online forums provide the Agency with greater access to stakeholders and allow OSHA to reach out to and collect information from a wider audience base.

One important way that OSHA engages stakeholders is through its regulatory agenda web chats, which are held semi-annually following the release of the new regulatory agenda. These web chats are open to the public and provide interested individuals the opportunity to speak directly with OSHA officials regarding any aspects of the regulatory agenda or the rulemaking process. These chats have become increasing popular and allow OSHA to provide key information as well as answer stakeholder questions the same day the regulatory agenda is released.

In order to reach more stakeholders interested in the Combustible Dust rulemaking, OSHA held its first-ever virtual stakeholder meeting last spring. 396 people and organizational representatives logged in to observe or participate in this web chat. Additionally, as part of the OSHA’s campaign to address its outdated permissible exposure limits, the Agency established a forum on the OSHA website where stakeholders could submit their nominations for the chemicals they believed presented the greatest health risk to workers. Over 80 comments were received. The nominations assisted OSHA in setting the Agency’s priorities regarding the chemicals to target for further research. Finally, OSHA is developing the OSHApedia website, which will establish another source where the Agency can tap into the collective knowledge of occupational safety and health specialists to provide the public with information on a variety of safety and health topics.

 

 

Stacy McGuire
Department of Labor

OSHA’s Regulatory Agenda Web chats generally result in over 100 questions being asked by stakeholders, with the Agency responding to more than half.  Results of the previous 2 web chats are located at http://www.dol.gov/regulations/archive.htm#chats.  For the combustible dust virtual stakeholder meeting, almost 400 persons logged in to observe ort participate; this compares to about 60 or so that are typically accommodated when OSHA holds a stakeholder meeting at a fixed meeting location.  These early efforts have shown that use of such web-based approaches increases stakeholder participation in the rulemaking process. 

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