Approximately 13,000 employers across the country are on notice to fix safety and health hazards that are driving up injury and illness rates in their workplaces, OSHA announced Friday.
Up to 4,200 of the sites may be targeted for comprehensive safety and health inspections by OSHA over the next 10 months.
The agency identified the establishments with the nation's highest lost workday injury and illness rates based on employer-reported data from a 1998 survey of 80,000 work sites.
Work sites identified had eight or more injuries and illnesses resulting in lost work days for every 100 full-time workers. The national average was three instances per 100 workers.
"By targeting high-hazard work sites, we're placing our resources where they are most needed," said OSHA Administrator Charles N. Jeffress. "Employers reporting these high rates will more than likely undergo a detailed inspection sometime this year."
Jeffress sent letters to all employers identified in the survey, enclosing copies of their injury and illness data, as well as a list of the most frequently violated OSHA standards for their specific industry.
While he addressed concerns for the high rates, he also offered the agency's assistance in helping employers turn those rates around, including hiring safety and health consultants, and using OSHA's on-site consultation program.
"We recognize that an elevated lost-work-day injury and illness rate does not necessarily indicate a lack of interest in safety and health on the part of your business," Jeffress said in the letter. "Whatever the cause, however, a high rate is costly to your company in both personal and financial terms."
This year's Site Specific Targeting plan replaces last year's enforcement plan which targeted 2,200 hazardous work sites.
Added to this year's list of industries subject to inspection are livestock (except dairy and poultry), dairy and general farms, lumber and other construction materials, department stores and hospitals.
Also, unlike last year, all nursing homes with a rate at or above 14.0 will be inspected.
Only the top 20 percent of those establishments were included last year since nursing homes were grouped with three related industries that resulted in a larger number of facilities than other classifications on the list.
OSHA expects all workplaces targeted under this plan will be inspected by Jan. 31, 2001.
The 23 states and two territories that operate their own OSHA-approved programs are not required to adopt this site-specific targeting plan.
However, they are required to operate their own inspection targeting system.
A list of the 13,000 employers is available from OSHA's Web site at www.osha.gov.
The list does not designate those earmarked for targeted inspection.