The purpose of the stakeholder meeting was to provide feedback to OSHA of ASSE's observations about OSHA's customer satisfaction goal in the Agency's performance objectives plan. The Occupational and Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has determined that the evaluation of customer satisfactory is an important objective to their agency and has incorporated that element in their strategic plan. OSHA retained a marketing consultant, Westat Inc., to assist them in developing a plan for assessing customer satisfaction. Westat recently completed drafts of customer satisfaction surveys that will eventually be used to compile information about various levels of contact with OSHA. The American Society of Safety Engineers was invited to participate in a focus group to review these draft surveys and assist OSHA and Westat with the refinement and editing of the surveys.
In addition to ASSE, representatives from the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM,) National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), Federal Office of Management and Budget and Federal OSHA participated in the meeting. The meeting was led by W. Wade Martin, Ph.D, Director for Performance Improvement, WESTAT.
OSHA is providing the overall planning and WESTAT is creating the questionnaire that eventually may be released to employers who are the subject of OSHA site inspections or letters of inquiry. The questionnaire is intended to ask about OSHA's communication, actions, competency of personnel and Agency responsiveness during the process. A similar questionnaire is being developed for employees of the employers subject to OSHA action with details of the process are still to be worked out. ASSE anticipates continuing involvement in this stakeholder process.
The focus group also identified several levels of OSHA "customers," depending on the nature of the contact with the agency. Clearly the most common will be the employer who is subjected to compliance inspections, but could also include the employer seeking advice and consultation. Another customer, and perhaps its most important customer, are the workers who are intended to be protected by OSHA enforcement of safety and health standards. Other customers of the agency include those stakeholders who are directly or indirectly affected by OSHA's action, including labor unions, trade associations, other Federal agencies, state and local governments, occupational safety and health professionals, and manufacturers of equipment that is subject to OSHA standards.
The focus group concentrated on the evaluation and editing of the customer satisfaction survey for those attending stakeholder meetings. Customer satisfaction issues addressed by this survey included the meeting process, the presentation and competency of the OSHA staff in conducting the meeting, the opportunities for input from stakeholders in the meeting, as well as the level of satisfaction based on the stakeholders' own expectations of the meeting. Focus groups participants, including a labor union representative, two trade association representatives and a representative from another federal agency, offered their insights as to the timing of the distribution of the survey form to maximize useful input and also recommended changes to the instructions and specific questions concerning these stakeholder meetings.
Also reviewed at the focus group meeting were customer satisfaction surveys intended for workers who participated in OSHA inspections as well as employers subjected to those inspections. To ensure the widest level of input, the surveys will be collected anonymously and will be handled only by OSHA's consultant, not by any OSHA staff.
OSHA is committed to this plan of assessing customer satisfaction and anticipates that the surveys will be completed with distribution to begin during the year 2000. ASSE members who participate in OSHA stakeholder meetings or OSHA inspections can expect on a random basis to receive surveys that will be used to assess their satisfaction with the process. "It is our sincere hope that ASSE's early participation in the development of these customer satisfaction surveys will be materially beneficial to our members who are asked to evaluate OSHA's performance," says John Cheffer. "We recognize OSHA as a partner to the safety and health professional in the advancement of workplace safety and health and always seek to take advantage of opportunities to benefit ours members in this way."