In the letter, OSHA explains that the notification is a proactive step to encourage employers to take steps now to reduce those rates and improve the safety and health environment in their workplaces.
"This identification process is meant to raise awareness that injuries and illnesses are high at these facilities," OSHA Administrator Edwin Foulke Jr. said. "Our goal is to identify workplaces where injury and illness rates are high, and to offer assistance to employers so they can address the hazards and reduce occupational injuries and illnesses."
OSHA identified establishments with the nation's highest workplace injury and illness rates through employer-reported data from a 2005 survey of 80,000 worksites (the survey consisted of data from calendar year 2004). The workplaces had six or more injuries or illnesses resulting in days away from work, restricted work activity or job transfer (DART) for every 100 full-time workers.
The national average during 2004 was 2.5 DART instances for every 100 workers.
Agency Offers its Help
In addition to receiving copies of the illness and injury data, employers are getting a list of the most frequently violated OSHA standards for their specific industry. The letter also offers the agency's assistance in helping turn the numbers around, suggesting, among other things, that employers take advantage of free safety and health consultation services provided by OSHA, state workplace safety agencies, insurance carriers or outside safety and health consultants.
Although there are no specific statistics on the number of employers who contact OSHA for help as a result of receiving the letters, there is a considerable spike in the number of calls made to OSHA safety and health consultants, an OSHA spokesperson noted. The agency has been sending out the about same number of notices for the past 7 years since the data collection was initiated, the spokesperson said.