Last year, in a new effort to crack down on companies that could be violating OSHA's recordkeeping rule (29 CFR 1910.0029), the agency placed 200 low-rate/high-hazard facilities on its Site Specific Targeting (SST) list. Facilities on the list are more likely to be inspected by OSHA. Until 2004, the only sites in the SST program were those with high injury and illness rates.
The inspection reports reveal:
- OSHA placed 200 such sites in its SST program, and inspected 46, for an inspection rate of slightly less than 25 percent.
- The inspections yielded more than 70 violations, nearly 50 of them "serious."
- OSHA's bloodborne pathogens standard (29 CFR 1910.1030) was the most commonly violated rule among these sites.
- No violations were found at 22 of the 46 inspected facilities.
Most of the low-rate/high-hazard cases with a large number of citations did not have recordkeeping violations. Last year was the first time OSHA used SST to enforce its recordkeeping standard, and it is not clear to what extent agency inspectors were instructed to look carefully at the OSHA logs, where workplace injuries and illnesses must be recorded.
One indication that the new program may prove effective at ferreting out OSHA records cheaters is that Weyerhaeuser's Trus Joist plant in Buckhannon, W.Va., made the 2004 low-rate/high-hazard SST list. Last year, OSHA fined the company $77,000 and Weyerhaeuser agreed to audit OSHA logs at other facilities after the agency uncovered 38 instances of unrecorded injuries and illnesses at the Buckhannon facility. The Trus Joist inspection resulted from a complaint after the facility applied to join OSHA's Voluntary Protection Program, not from the SST program.
In a sign that the agency continues to take the recordkeeping issue seriously, this year OSHA is looking to double the number of low-rate/high-hazard SST facilities, according to Rich Fairfax, OSHA's director of enforcement programs.