OSHA Drops Health Inspections From Targeted Inspection Plan

The elimination of most health inspections and several other significant changes to OSHA's 2005 site-specific targeting (SST) program suggest the agency is attempting to respond to the public comments on SST the agency solicited last year.

Since 1999, OSHA has used a site-specific targeting inspection program in order to focus programmed inspections on establishments with the highest reported injury and illness rates. "This program gives us the opportunity to focus our enforcement efforts where it will have the most benefit for workers and employers," said Jonathan Snare, deputy assistant secretary of labor for OSHA, in a statement.

OSHA says this year's program will initially cover about 4,400 individual worksites on the "primary" list.

As in previous years, the agency is using two rates to determine whether a worksite should be placed on the primary or the lower-priority secondary list. One rate is DART: injuries or illnesses resulting in days away from work, restricted work, or job transfers per 100 full-time employees. The second measure is days away from work injury and illnesses (DAFWII).

In the context of growing stakeholder concerns with SST, in May 2004 OSHA asked for public comments on the program, and later extended the comment period. The agency says that it received more than 40 such comments from industry, labor unions and various professional organizations.

Some of the more significant changes in the 2005 SST program include:

  • Last year, sites needed a DART at or above 15 to make the primary list, while this year OSHA lowered the number to 12;
  • Establishments will also be placed on the list if their DAFWII case rate is at or above 9 last year the threshold was 10;
  • OSHA has doubled the number of low-rate establishments from high-rate industries added to the primary list from 200 to 400, a measure designed to ferret out establishments that may be trying to elude SST by under-reporting injuries and illnesses;
  • Worksites falling under OSHA's enhanced enforcement program will automatically be moved to the primary list and placed on the current inspection cycle;
  • Health inspections have been dropped from the SST program in most cases - OSHA officials will ordinarily restrict themselves to safety issues;
  • The criteria for "records only" inspections have been relaxed, making it easier for establishments to qualify for these less intrusive, non-comprehensive inspections.
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