|OSHSPA Reports on State Plan Activities > 2001 OSHSPA Report > Enforcement: Targeting High-Risk Worksites|
|Enforcement: Targeting High-Risk Worksites|
The primary mission of all state plans is to ensure that every worker goes home healthy and whole. Enforcement plays a critical role in fulfilling this mission. Each state plan has legislative authority to monitor safety and health conditions in the workplaces covered by their program.
The state plan states continually review their targeting systems to make sure they are inspecting those establishments that have the most problems, and avoid inspecting those establishments that are providing a safe and healthful work environment.
Each state plan’s legislation proscribes how these monitoring or inspection visits will occur. Since this statutory authority prevents the programs from giving advance notice, compliance officers may not set up an appointment prior to the initial visit. The state plans are also required to issue citations and assess penalties for identified hazards.
Every day, more than 1,300 enforcement personnel in the state plan states work diligently to help ensure that workplaces are as safe and healthy as possible. It is the goal of these compliance officers to conduct inspections in a professional and efficient manner, with minimal disruption in the workplace.
FY 2001 Total Violations
Text Version of Chart:
Title: FY 2001 Total Violations
Type: Horizontal Bar Graph
Graph Elements: 5 - One bar for each violation type with the number of violations
FY 2001 Case Data
A number of state plans have site-specific targeting data available from their state workers’ compensation system. The foundation of an effective enforcement program is the ability to target workplaces with the most hazardous conditions, and state plans use a variety of data sources to direct their enforcement and consultation efforts toward businesses with a high rate of preventable injuries and illnesses. Site-specific claims history, rather than industry-wide data, is a better indicator of worksite safety and health deficiencies.
States may also participate in the federal OSHA Data Initiative to collect data from individual employers for targeting high-risk worksites. The Data Initiative gives OSHA a new targeting tool: the ability to determine the lost-workday injury and illness (LWDII) rate for every employer included in the sample.
The annual survey has been mailed since 1996 to 80,000 employers in non-construction industries. To verify the accuracy of information submitted, OSHA audits a sample of employers. From the information submitted by employers in the Data Initiative, each state determines its cut-off rate for site-specific targeting inspections. For example, in 1999 federal OSHA targeted workplaces with an LWDII rate above 16. The national LWDII rate for 1997 and 1998 was about three–three injuries or illnesses resulting in lost workdays for every 100 full-time workers.
Washington was the first state in the nation to have both an exclusive state fund workers’ compensation system and an OSH program, WISHA, in the same agency. This provides an unequaled opportunity to use injury, illness and claims data to identify hazardous industries and problem employers. WISHA targets employers for services coordinated by enforcement, consultation, education and training, and risk management.
In 1994 Wyoming’s state plan operation combined with its workers’ compensation system, allowing it to target based on company-specific information. To schedule compliance visits, Wyoming uses data such as cost of claims and the number of claims compared to size of employment.
Oregon’s Department of Consumer and Business Services administers workers’ compensation laws, a nonexclusive state fund, and workplace safety and health programs. For workplace inspections, OR-OSHA merges workers’ compensation claim data with state employment data, targeting employers with accidents.
Utah, Vermont, North Carolina, Arizona
Utah’s Labor Commission administers a workers’ compensation system and non-exclusive state fund, resulting in accessible information for effective targeting of industries and employers. Vermont uses workers’ compensation data to develop a safety inspection schedule, using information on the total number of injuries, the number of lost-time injuries, and employment at the firm. North Carolina and Arizona have also developed inspection targeting programs that use workers’ compensation data to identify individual employers with high rates of claims.
Michigan pioneered a general industry safety inspection scheduling program that relies on survey data as well as site-specific injury information. Most significant is the addition of workers’ compensation data to the information sources used. Under the new system, employers reporting higher numbers of compensable workers’ compensation cases in selected Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes and randomly selected establishments will be identified for inspection. Most of the specific SICs are based on the goals of the MIOSHA Strategic Plan.
Local Emphasis Programs (LEP)
Minnesota OSHA initiated a Local Emphasis Program in 1997 to address perchloroethylene exposures in industry. A number of companies were randomly selected for inspection from a list of dry cleaners and other industries reporting large use of perchloroethylene to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. In 1998 Minnesota added a Local Emphasis Program for automobile body repair shops following review of IMIS (Integrated Management Information System) data revealing that more than half of all automobile repair shops inspected by Minnesota had received a citation, and that most of the citations were for multiple violations.
The Minnesota First program began in 1996 for high injury rate employers with 100 or more employees. The program combines the core elements of partnership, employee involvement, and safety and health program development toward the goal of reducing injuries, illnesses and hazards in the inspected workplaces. Employers who develop an action plan and improve their safety and health program are eligible for penalty reductions of up to 70 percent, a two-year exemption from general schedule inspections, and access to a safety and health consultant for the length of the action plan. During the first four years of the program, the Minnesota First team conducted an average 34 inspections. The list of possible participants for 1999 included 89 employers.
In 1995 Puerto Rico’s PROSHO started a Local Emphasis Program (LEP) for toxic gas release to identify and provide assistance to employers whose industrial activities expose or may expose employees to serious hazards related to toxic gas. Under PROSHO’s 1999 annual performance plan, LEPs will be started for trenching and excavation, tunneling and urban trains. In a PROSHO LEP on bloodborne pathogens exposure in clinic and reference laboratories covering 677 establishments identified by the Board of Medical Technicians, emphasis is on the severity of violations to the regulations.
Indiana implemented an LEP on scaffolding that proved very successful in identifying and controlling hazards. The typical scaffold LEP inspection now has four times the average number of serious violations compared to previous similar inspections.
Alaska, North Carolina
In 2001, Alaska sponsored a logging seminar for all states in the northwestern United States. It also had Local Emphasis Programs and training for hospitals, logging, construction, seafood processing and power generation. North Carolina has Special Emphasis Programs for construction activities, logging, silicas, lead in construction and methylene chloride.
Cooperative Compliance Programs
Iowa is formulating a cooperative compliance program that will take advantage of both their consultation and enforcement sections to better serve Iowa’s employers and employees.
In 1998 Virginia implemented the Virginia Compliance Alternative Partnerships (CAP) program, which targets employers with the highest workplace injury and illness rates, seeking cooperative agreements with employers to work toward the goal of a safer and more healthful workplace. A pilot program was tested and the program is being refined with input from Virginia’s business and labor communities.
California’s Cal/OSHA received funding under workers’ compensation reform for an expanded targeted inspection program, and a targeted consultation program with a more proactive focus. Consultation visits are offered to high-hazard employers as an alternative to targeted inspections. The targeted consultation program emphasizes reducing the number of repetitive motion injuries (RMIs), including back injuries, and has developed model injury and illness prevention training programs to prevent RMIs.
Cal/OSHA’s lead-in-construction Special Emphasis Program success was followed by broader emphasis programs in the agriculture and construction industries. ASHIP, the Agricultural Safety and Health Inspection Project, was launched in 1999. This emphasis program is designed to compensate for the fact that agricultural production is one of the most hazardous industrial activities in California, yet few complaints are made by agricultural workers. During the summer and fall peak production seasons a large number of employees are exposed to serious hazards, which include machinery-related accidents such as tractors, field sanitation hazards such as absence of toilet and drinking water facilities, heat stress, back injuries from using short-handled agricultural tools, and skin conditions such as lacerations from exposure to pruning knives and dermatitis from exposure to soil contaminants.
Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Michigan, Washington, California
Settlement agreements have been used by Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont and Virginia at either the pre-citation or post-contest level. Historic settlement agreements have been negotiated by Michigan, Washington, California, and Oregon.
Michigan OSHA concluded its seven-month investigation of a fatal explosion at the Ford Rouge Complex power plant with an unprecedented $7 million settlement agreement with Ford Motor Company and the UAW. One of the worst automotive industry accidents in Michigan, the February 1999 explosion in the power plant at the Ford Rouge Complex in Dearborn resulted in the death of six workers and serious injury to 14 others.
The unique and innovative resolution included a record $1.5 million penalty, the largest monetary sanction ever levied in Michigan as a result of a MIOSHA investigation. Other elements of the $7 million agreement were: $1.5 million for programs to achieve lasting improvements in safety; $1 million for research to increase understanding of industrial safety and health; $1.5 million for medical research; $1 million for a scholarship fund; and $500,000 potential reimbursement to MIOSHA for costs associated with third-party litigation.
In 2001, Michigan negotiated a Settlement Agreement with Lomac LLC in Muskegon and its union representatives, with a combined total of more than $3 million in penalties and additional activities. The settlement closed a nine-month investigation of a double explosion at Lomac on April 12, 2000, that injured 10 workers. The Settlement Agreement agreed to by the company included an action plan with 15 safety enhancement initiatives.
In Washington during FY 1999 following two unrelated fatality investigations in different industries, the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries negotiated settlement agreements that were unprecedented in the history of state-administrated occupational safety and health programs, and ranking among the top compliance agreements ever obtained by federal OSHA. The combined settlement terms exceed $6.9 million, including a total of $1.7 million in penalties.
In November 1998 six workers at the Equilon-owned refinery in Anacortes, Washington, died in a fire as they were attempting to restart the delayed coking unit after a storm had interrupted power and shut down refinery operations the previous day. The tragic event marked the worst industrial catastrophe since the Department of Labor and Industries began enforcing the Washington Industrial Safety and Health Act (WISHA) more than 26 years ago.
WISHA concluded its six-month investigation in May 1999, with an unprecedented $4.4 million compliance agreement designed to make the Equilon-owned refinery safer and more healthful for workers. Equilon Enterprises is a joint operation of Shell and Texaco. The innovative settlement, future-focused in approach, included a record $1.1 million penalty, the highest penalty that had ever been assessed by a state program, and among the largest penalties issued nationwide.
In September 1999 WISHA concluded its investigation of a fatal fall at an aircraft maintenance plant with a $2.5 million compliance agreement. The previous March a 64-year-old worker at the Paine Field, Everett facility fell from a portable stairway stand used for access to airliners and died five days later of head trauma. WISHA’s agreement with the B.F. Goodrich Aerospace MRO Group, the largest aerospace maintenance, repair and overhaul facility in the country, calls for: payment of a $600,000 penalty; an $800,000 investment to promote worker and community safety; the company’s acknowledgment that nine worker safety rules were violated, one willfully; the company to make $1.1 million in safety improvements beyond what is required for correcting the violations, including a third-party audit to verify compliance with the agreement.
These creative and significant enforcement actions provide immediate and ongoing benefits to Equilon and B.F. Goodrich workers. The agreements provided for timely abatement of hazards and eliminated protracted legal battles that would have held compliance and abatement in limbo pending outcome of the conventional enforcement and appeal process. The settlement terms send a strong message to all employers that workers’ lives will not be compromised.
In California, Cal/OSHA spent six months on an exhaustive investigation of the February 1999 Tosco refinery accident that killed four workers and seriously injured a fifth. The division’s investigations found that Tosco failed to shut down the naphtha piping operations prior to maintenance work that involved cutting into and removing a portion of the line. As a consequence, naphtha flowed through the line onto hot surfaces of the adjoining fractionator tower and ignited, causing a fire that spread up and down the tower and engulfed the four workers.
The Cal/OSHA team coordinated its on-site investigations with federal OSHA and the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, Bay Area Air Quality Management District and Contra Costa County Department of Health Services. Cal/OSHA cited Tosco Refining Company for 33 alleged violations of state workplace safety and health regulations. The total amount of the proposed penalties was $810,750–the highest penalty amount ever issued against a single employer by Cal/OSHA. The division conducted a concurrent criminal investigation through its Bureau of Investigations, and the case was referred to the district attorney’s office for prosecution.
The Contra Costa County District Attorney filed criminal charges against Tosco, which pleaded no contest and agreed to pay the maximum fine of $945,000. In addition, Tosco reimbursed Contra Costa County up to $100,000 for its investigative and legal costs. Tosco offered to contribute $1 million to the county to aid in development of the Los Medamos Health Clinic, which the county had identified as a needed facility because of recent closure of Los Medamos Community Hospital.
Oregon is expanding its use of conditional settlement agreements in which the employer is granted reduced penalties in exchange for agreeing to specific conditions. In FY 1999, 27 agreements were reached. Though conditions of the agreements vary widely depending on the employer and violations involved, many agreements require employers to use OR-OSHA consultation services, develop or improve current safety and health programs, or provide specific employee training.
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