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OSHA Enforcement Focuses on the Triple Bottom Line

As OSHA leads in advancing the cause of safety and health, the Agency is channeling its efforts toward the goal of improving the triple bottom line: reducing injuries, illnesses and deaths on the job. Strong, fair, and effective enforcement, using mechanisms such as Site Specific Targeting (SST) and the Enhanced Enforcement Program (EEP), is a key component in achieving this goal. There are many components to OSHA's effort, and multiple intermediate measures of its effectiveness. However, the ultimate outcome measure of OSHA's effectiveness is the reduction in workplace injuries, illnesses and loss of life - the fact that more workers go home safe, healthy and whole to their families at the end of every workday.

OSHA Implements Enhanced Enforcement Program for FY2004

The Agency's new Enhanced Enforcement Program (EEP) focuses on employers who, despite OSHA's enforcement and outreach efforts, repeatedly ignore their OSHA Act obligations, thereby placing their employees at risk. This program targets cases with extremely serious violations related to a fatality, or multiple willful or repeated violations. During the first year of implementation, EEP cases totaled more than 300, approximately 55% of which were in the construction industry, and 83% involved a fatality. The objective of EEP is to assure sustained compliance at these facilities.

OSHA Focuses on Seven Target Industries under the Strategic Management Plan

Faced with both new challenges and persistent safety and health issues, OSHA developed a 5-year Strategic Management Plan that directs the Agency's resources towards three over-arching goals, one of which focuses on the reduction of occupational injuries, illnesses, and loss of life. To accomplish the goals of fatality, injury, and illness reduction set forth in the Strategic Management Plan, OSHA identified seven industries with high injury/illness rates and a high proportion of severe injuries/illnesses for focused targeting of outreach, education and enforcement activity. These industries include:
  • Landscaping and Horticultural Services
  • Oil and Gas Field Services
  • Fruit and Vegetable Processing
  • Blast Furnace and Basic Steel Products
  • Ship and Boat Building and Repair
  • Public Warehousing and Storage
  • Concrete and Concrete Products
During FY2004, OSHA conducted 2,955 inspections within these seven industries. Many of these inspections were a result of Local Emphasis Programs (LEPs), which Area and Regional offices develop to address specific hazards of their geographic location. The objective of our effort is to significantly lower the disproportionately high injury and illness rates in these industries.

Injury and Illness Rates Decline for Fifth Consecutive Year

Total recordable case rates continued their steady decline. The rate for 2002 was the lowest since the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) began reporting this information in the early 1970s. In addition to the decline in the rate of total recordable injuries and illnesses, the rate of cases that resulted in lost workdays remained at a historically low level. The continued decline in the lost workday case rate means that fewer American workers encountered safety or health hazards that resulted in serious injuries or illnesses.


Injury and Illness Rates (1),(2) 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002
Total Recordable Case Rate 6.7 6.3 6.1 5.7 5.3
Lost Workday Case Rate 3.1 3.0 3.0 2.8 2.8


Total Recordable Case Rate
Total Recordable Case Rate

Fatality Rate Remains at All-Time Low

While the total number of fatalities increased slightly over 2002, BLS statistics show that total employment also increased from 2002 to 2003. The rate at which fatal work injuries occurred in 2003 was unchanged from the previous year, at 4.0 fatalities per 100,000 workers. Rates of fatal work injuries for both 2003 and 2002 were the lowest ever recorded by the fatality census, which has been conducted each year since 1992. Fatality rates have trended downward, paralleling the injury and illness rates. Over the past five years the fatality rate has decreased 11 percent. There were fewer deaths from falls and harmful environments while deaths as a result of assaults and violent acts rose by 61.

We are also encouraged by our continued progress in reducing fatalities among Hispanic workers. Fatalities among Hispanic workers dropped notably for the second straight year, after several years of increases. Fatalities among foreign-born Hispanics also dropped for the first time ever.


Fatality Statistics 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003
Total Number of Fatalities 6,054 5,920 5,915 5,524 5,559
Fatality Rate(3) 4.5 4.3 4.3 4.0 4.0
Hispanic Fatality Rate(3) 5.2 5.6 6.0 5.0 4.5


Total Recordable Case Rate

OSHA Inspection Activity Continues at High Level

OSHA continues to maintain its high level of annual inspection activity. In FY2004, OSHA conducted 39,167 total inspections, exceeding its original goal of 37,700. Unprogrammed inspections showed an increase over the previous fiscal year. OSHA responded to more employee complaints and conducted more inspections based on referrals from other agencies than the previous year. Programmed inspections continue to focus on high hazard industries, which have the highest lost-time injury rates.


OSHA Inspection Statistics FY2000 FY2001 FY2002 FY2003 FY2004
Total Inspections 36,555 35,974 37,614 39,817 39,167
Total Programmed Inspections 18,436 17,946 20,539 22,436 21,576
Total Unprogrammed Inspections 18,112 18,027 17,075 17,381 17,590
           
      Fatality Investigations 1,195 1,130 1,134 1,021 1,060
      Complaints 8,441 8,374 7,896 7,969 8,062
      Referrals 4,250 4,434 4,447 4,472 4,585
      Other 4,226 4,089 3,598 3,880 3,829

Total Violations Continue to Increase; Serious, Willful, Repeat Violations Show Significant Gains

In FY2004, 86,708 violations of OSHA's standards and regulations were found in the nation's workplaces, an increase of 3.8 percent over FY2003 and a 9.5 percent increase over the last five years. Serious violations were up 3 percent in FY2004 over FY2003, while the number of willful violations increased 14 percent over the same time period. The increase in the number of serious and willful violations shows that OSHA enforcement continues to be strong, assuring employees are protected from serious hazards and identifying employers who have repeatedly or willfully violated the law. They also show that OSHA is targeting its resources accurately to those employers who have the highest injury and illness rates and to worksites where employees are more likely to be injured or killed on the job.


OSHA Violation Statistics FY2000 FY2001 FY2002 FY2003 FY2004
Total Violations 79,206 77,893 77,633 83,539 86,708
Total Serious Violations 50,977 52,180 53,845 59,861 61,666
Total Willful Violations 365 537 331 404 462
Total Repeat Violations 1,825 1,872 1,867 2,147 2,360
Total Other-than-Serious 25,427 22,776 21,128 20,552 21,705

OSHA's enforcement efforts remain strong, fair and effective, targeting the most hazardous workplaces and the employers who have the highest injury and illness rates, and continues to focus on the triple bottom line: reducing workplace injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. Safety and health add value to business, to the workplace, and to life.


Footnote 1 Rates reflect number of cases per 100 full-time workers (Back to text)
Footnote 2 Rates are for private industry employers (Back to text)
Footnote 3 Rates reflect number of fatalities per 100,000 full-time employees (Back to text)