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Occupational Safety and Health Administration

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Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Enforcement

With over four decades of working to ensure safe and healthy workplaces, OSHA has continually served a vital role in assuring safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women. Since the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act), workplace deaths have fallen nearly 65 percent and occupational injury and illness rates have dropped 67 percent. At the same time, U.S. employment has almost doubled. A recent study by the University of California, Berkeley and Harvard University confirmed that OSHA's inspections not only prevent workers from getting hurt on the job, but also produced $6 billion in estimated savings to employers nationwide. The study found that there was a 9.4 percent drop in injury claims at the workplace in the four years following an inspection and a 25 percent average savings on workers' compensation costs compared to similar, non-inspected companies. The benefits were observed among both small and large employers.1

OSHA Inspection Statistics

FY 2008

FY 2009

FY 2010

FY 2011

FY 2012

Total Inspections

38,667

39,004

40,993

40,614

40,961

Total Programmed Inspections

23,041

24,323

24,773

23,329

23,078

Total Unprogrammed Inspections

15,626

14,681

16,220

17,285

17,883

   Fatality/Catastrophe

936

836

830

851

900

   Complaints

6,708

6,661

8,027

8,765

9,573

   Referrals

4,880

4,375

4,634

4,776

4,864

   Other Unprogrammed Insps*

3,102

2,809

2,729

2,893

2,546

* Other Unprogrammed Inspections include: Monitoring, Follow-Up, Unprogrammed Related, and Unprogrammed Other Inspections.

Note: FY 2011 includes OSHA Information System (OIS) data and OSHA's Integrated Management Information System (IMIS) data that is of limited comparability to previous years that only include IMIS data.

Federal OSHA Inspection Activity in FY 2012

OSHA's annual inspection activity was maintained at a high level in FY 2012. OSHA conducted 40,961 total inspections. This number includes 219 significant and egregious (instance-by-instance) enforcement actions. In addition, OSHA conducted 23,078 programmed inspections. These inspections indicate that OSHA devoted more resources to proactively target the industries and employers that experienced the greatest number of workplace injuries and illnesses. OSHA also conducted 17,883 unprogrammed inspections, including employee complaints, injuries/fatalities, and referrals. Fatality inspections increased by 5.7 percent in FY 2012.

OSHA Violation Statistics

FY 2008

FY 2009

FY 2010

FY 2011

FY 2012

Total Violations

87,687

87,663

96,742

85,514

78,723

Total Serious Violations

67,052

67,668

74,885

62,115

57,112

Total Willful Violations

517

401

1,5192

594

423

Total Repeat Violations

2,817

2,762

2,758

3,229

3,034

Total Other-than-Serious

17,131

16,615

17,244

19,306

18,054

Referrals or Significant Aid to Prosecutors Addressing OSHA-Related Matters

 

2009

2010

2011

2012

Criminal Referrals

12

14

10

13

OSHA continues to make referrals or provide significant aid to prosecutors addressing OSHA-related matters. These actions include referrals under Title 29 of the United States Code, Section 666(e), for employee deaths caused by willful conduct violating an OSHA standard, obstruction of justice, aiding state and local investigations, and prosecutions on safety and health related matters. Fraud related matters, such as training card fraud, are also included. A criminal referral is made by the DOL Office of the Solicitor to the Department of Justice.

For more information on OSHA inspections, see the OSHA Inspection Fact Sheet https://www.osha.gov/OshDoc/data_General_Facts/factsheet-inspections.pdf*, or click this link for more information on OSHA's compliance assistance services https://www.osha.gov/dcsp/compliance_assistance/index.html, and OSHA's free on site assistance for small employers https://www.osha.gov/dcsp/smallbusiness/consult.html. For information on employee rights, see the OSHA Workers Page https://www.osha.gov/workers.html


1 Levine, D., R. Johnson, and M. Toffel. "Randomized Government Safety Inspections Reduce Worker Injuries with no Detectable Job Loss." Science. 336 (6083): 907-911 (2012).

2 It should be noted that the significant increase in willful violations in FY 2010 is due to a number of significant enforcement actions in the refinery industry, including an action against British Petroleum North America, which has been subsequently settled.


* Accessibility Assistance: Contact OSHA's Directorate of Enforcement Programs at (202) 693-2129 for assistance accessing PDF materials.

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