In an unprecedented
move, Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F), the United Auto Workers Union (UAW) and the
U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
have formed a partnership to improve worker health and safety conditions in its
The partnership is the first of its kind between an automotive company, employee
union and the federal government. It lays the groundwork for a new level of
cooperation and communication between Ford, OSHA and the UAW in developing and
administering plant health and safety standards.
“Ford, the UAW and OSHA share the goal of providing a safe and healthy working
environment in our global manufacturing facilities,” said James Padilla, group
vice president – Global Manufacturing at Ford. “By working as a team, we harness
the best resources and knowledge available to achieve this goal.
“We are proud to take the lead in forging an industry partnership that focuses
on collaboration rather than acrimony, and builds a strong health and safety
dialogue at Ford.”
As a result of the partnership, Ford, the UAW and OSHA have jointly developed
plant inspection protocols that address material handling and hazards specific
to the automotive industry. The protocols incorporate comprehensive health and
safety standards adopted by Ford and the UAW as long ago as 1973 and cover a
variety of areas including chemical safety, skilled trade hazards, energy
control and power lock outs, confined spaces, ergonomics, noise control and
hearing conservation, heat stress and use of protective gear, plant vehicles and
Ford has agreed to share its health and safety monitoring system, SHARP, with
OSHA representatives. It has also agreed to help train OSHA inspectors about the
automotive industry and the unique health and safety issues it faces.
Significantly, the partnership promises to forge a new, non-adversarial
relationship between Ford, the UAW and OSHA that is founded on cooperation,
accountability, understanding and employee involvement in all plant health and
“The goal of this partnership is to reduce injury and illness rates through
improved safety and health programs,” said OSHA Administrator Charles N.
Jeffress. “This unique coalition sets a new precedent for public-private
cooperation and addresses our mutual goal of protecting the hard-working men and
women of Ford Motor.”
The agreement reduces the likelihood of using wall-to-wall OSHA plant
inspections as a means for assessing health and safety compliance. Instead, Ford
and the UAW will track plant health and safety incidents, submit an annual
safety report to OSHA and hold an annual plant review with OSHA representatives.
OSHA will also conduct an informal walk-through of the facility during this
review and may return to a facility if it wants further data and reviews of
particular health and safety issues. Company and union representatives will meet
with OSHA to conduct the annual review.
“This is an important step forward in our efforts to make sure all our employees
have a safe workplace,” said Ron Gettelfinger, vice president and director, UAW
National Ford Department. “This agreement will lead to better communication and
a better process.”
All Ford plants covered by the agreement are located in federal OSHA enforcement
states. Ford also intends to pursue similar agreements with state OSHA
organizations. State plans must be at least as effective as the federal OSHA
The provisions of this agreement do not modify any legal or contractual rights
or remedies. OSHA inspections to investigate employee complaints, serious
accidents, and national or state safety mandates also are not precluded by this
The new partnership is in effect for three years.