"One of my priorities has been and will continue to be strong, fair, effective enforcement, and these figures bear that out," said Labor Secretary Elaine Chao. "Inspections of workplaces are up, and we are more effectively targeting where the hazards exist. We will continue to make improvements as we progress toward our bottom line reducing injuries, illness and fatalities in the workplace."
The increased enforcement activity came during a year when the agency also dedicated unprecedented resources to ensuring the safety and health of workers at the World Trade Center site in New York. Over a 10-month period, more than 1,000 inspectors from state, consultation and federal OSHA offices around the country were sent to assist in the New York effort.
During FY 2002, which ended on Sept. 30, the agency inspected 37,493 workplaces in the United States. That is 1,093 inspections more than the fiscal year target of 36,400 inspections. In addition, the average penalty for serious violations rose from $930 in FY 2001 to $977 in FY 2002, indicating that the violations OSHA found were more serious, with higher penalties attached. Serious violations of workplace safety and health laws accounted for 70 percent of all OSHA violations found.
The top five most frequently cited OSHA standards are also in the most hazardous industries and areas with the most potential for serious illness, injury or death: scaffolding, hazard communications, fall protection, respiratory protection and lockout/tagout.
"No worker should be injured or killed on the job," said OSHA Administrator John Henshaw. "While there are fewer workplace fatalities each year, we still have more to do. We will continue to work with employers and employees to drive down injury and fatality rates even lower. A safe and healthful workplace, free from recognized hazards, is the right of every worker in America."