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OSHA Enforcement Trends and What You Can do to Ensure Compliance

OSHA's mission is to promote and ensure workplace safety and health and reduce workplace fatalities, injuries and illnesses. Although OSHA constantly faces new challenges from new industries, new technologies, and an ever-changing workforce, OSHA's mission remains the same.

 OSHA enforcement remains strong and effective. In FY2005, following an explosion at a petroleum refinery, OSHA conducted the most extensive investigation of its kind which resulted in the largest penalty ever -- over $20 million. Additionally, OSHA issued more willful violations during FY2005 than in any previous year.

OSHA's Enhanced Enforcement Program Shows Significant Gains for FY2005

The Agency's Enhanced Enforcement Program (EEP) focuses on employers who ignore their OSH Act obligations, and place their employees at risk. EEP targets cases with extremely serious violations related to a fatality or multiple willful or repeated violations. During FY2005, OSHA identified 615 inspections that qualified as EEP cases -- a 200 percent increase over the preceding year. The objective of EEP is to assure sustained compliance at these facilities. If an inspection is classified as an EEP, then it may receive, among other things, follow-up inspections, inspections of other workplaces of that employer, and more stringent settlement provisions.

 

OSHA Enforcement Activity in the Seven Target Industries Remains Robust

OSHA has identified seven industries with high injury/illness rates and a high proportion of severe injuries/illnesses for focused targeting and enforcement activity. These industries include:

 

    * Landscaping and Horticultural Services

    * Oil and Gas Field Services

    * Fruit and Vegetable Processing

    * Blast Furnace and Basic Steel Products

    * Ship and Boat Building and Repair

    * Public Warehousing and Storage

    * Concrete and Concrete Products

During FY2005, OSHA conducted 2,924 inspections within these seven industries. The objective of our effort is to significantly lower the disproportionately high injury and illness rates in these industries.

Injury and Illness Rates Continue to Steadily Decline

Total recordable case rates continued their steady decline. The rate for 2004 (the most recent data available) was the lowest since the implementation of OSHA's revised recordkeeping standard in 2002. In addition to the decline in the rate of total recordable injuries and illnesses, the rate of cases that resulted in lost workdays fell yet again. The continued decline in the lost workday case rate means that fewer American workers encountered safety or health hazards that resulted in serious injuries or illnesses.

Fatality Rate Remains Low
The rate of fatal work injuries was 4.1 fatalities per 100,000 workers as compared to 4.0 fatalities per 100,000 workers the previous year. While a slight increase over the previous year, this figure is still very close to an all-time low and is down by nearly 5% since 2001. OSHA continues to aggressively pursue the reduction of workplace fatalities through implementation of the Strategic Management Plan.

One ongoing concern is among the non-English speaker sector of employees. While fatalities among Hispanic workers increased slightly over last year the fatality rate is down by 12.5% since 2001.

OSHA Inspection Activity Remains Vigorous

OSHA continues to maintain its high level of annual inspection activity. In FY2005, OSHA conducted 38,714 total inspections (up 7.6%), exceeding its goal of 37,700. OSHA responded to 12,503 employee complaints and referrals and this number is greater than in previous years.

Total Violations Remain at High Levels; Willful Violations Show Significant Gains
In FY2005, 85,307 violations of OSHA's standards and regulations were found in the nation's workplaces; a 9.5 percent increase since 2001. The number of willful violations increased 62 percent over FY2004. The increase in willful violations shows that OSHA enforcement continues to be strong, identifying employers who intentionally disregarded the law and ensuring that employees are protected from serious hazards.

OSHA continues to focus on the bottom line: reducing workplace injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. Safety and health add value to business, to the workplace, and to life.

The bottom line for employers: take the health & safety of your employers seriously. A six step approach is required, including the following:

 

1. Training of employees

2. Written Safety Program

3. Proactive Worksite Inspections

4. OSHA Postings

5. Injury & Illness Recordkeeping

6. Knowledge of the OSHA Regulations

 

By incorporating these six steps in your organizations, you will become compliant with the law and more importantly, you'll keep your employees SAFE!

 

 

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