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Occupational Safety and Health Administration

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Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Enforcement

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) is authorized by the Occupational Safety Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) to assure employers provide safe and healthful conditions for working men and women free of recognized hazards by setting and enforcing standards and providing training, outreach, education, and technical assistance. To assure safe and healthful work conditions, the OSH act authorizes OSHA to establish and enforce standards; provide outreach, compliance assistance, and training; and establish cooperative programs to partner and work collaboratively with employers, employees, and other stakeholders. These intervention strategies are designed to deter, assist, and collaborate with employers and employees to reduce workplace injuries, illnesses, and fatalities.

OSHA INSPECTION ACTIVITY

In FY 2017, OSHA conducted 32,408 inspections, including 18,031 (about 56 percent) unprogrammed inspections, which includes employee complaints, injuries/fatalities, and referrals. The high percentage of unprogrammed inspections indicates that OSHA continues to devote considerable resources responding to referrals and complaints. Of the 32,408 inspections, 14,377 (about 44 percent) were programmed inspections. Programmed inspections focus OSHA’s enforcement resources towards the industries and operations where known hazards exist (e.g., combustible dusts, chemical processing, ship-breaking, falls in construction).

OSHA Inspection Statistics FY 2012 FY 2013 FY 2014 FY 2015 FY 2016 FY 2017
Total Inspections 40,961 39,228 36,163** 35,820 31,948 32,408
Total Programmed Inspections 23,078 22,170 19,222 16,527 12,731 14,377
Total Unprogrammed Inspections 17,883 17,058 16,941 19,293 19,217 18,031
~ Fatality/Catastrophe Inspections 900 826 850 912 890 837
~ Complaints Inspection 9,573 9,505 9,570 9,037 8,870 8,249
~ Referrals* 4,864 4,024 3,829 6,569 6,691 6,286
~ Other Unprogrammed Inspections 2,546 2,703 2,525 3,686 2,766 2,659
*As of FY 2015 referral inspections encompass all subtypes of referrals such as those received from compliance safety and health officers, safety and health agencies, other city/county/state/federal governments, media, and employer-reported.
** The October 2013 Government shutdown occurred during this time.

In FY 2016, OSHA began the Enforcement Weighting System (EWS). The unique weighting system assigns a value to specific categories of inspections or investigations. The value is known as an Enforcement Unit (EU) and all inspections receive an EU value of at least one. The new system underscores the importance of the resource-intensive enforcement activity that focuses on some of the most hazardous work place issues such as ergonomics, heat, chemical exposures, workplace violence, and process safety management.

Enforcement Weighting Values OSHA Enforcement Weighting – FY 2017 Inspection Summary
Inspection Category EU Value Inspection Category Inspections EUs
Federal Agencies 2 Federal Agencies 771 1,542
Process Safety Management 7 Process Safety Management 133 931
Combustible Dust 2 Combustible Dust 422 844
5a1 Ergonomic 5 5a1 Ergonomic 47 235
5a1 Heat 4 5a1 Heat 106 424
5a1 Non-PEL Exposures 3 5a1 Non-PEL Exposures 9 27
5a1 Workplace Violence 3 5a1 Workplace Violence 57 171
Fatality/Catastrophe 3 Fatality/Catastrophe 812 2,436
Personal Sampling 2 Personal Sampling 1,501 3,002
Significant Cases 8 Significant Cases 67 536
Phone/Fax Complaints 1/9 Phone/Fax/Complaint 21,244 2,355
Rapid Response Investigations 1/9Rapid Response Investigations 7,627 843
Non-Weighted Inspections 1 Non-Weighted Inspections 28,483 28,483
  Total 32,408 41,829

In FY 2016, OSHA began the Enforcement Weighting System (EWS). The EWS assigns a value to specific categories of inspections and investigations. The value is known as an Enforcement Unit (EU) and all inspections receive an EU value of at least one. The new system underscores the importance of the resource-intensive enforcement activity that is focused on some of the most hazardous work place hazards such as ergonomics, heat, chemical exposures, workplace violence and process safety management.

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.

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