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US Department of Labor

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

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Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Enforcement

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (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 working 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 2019, OSHA conducted 33,393 inspections, including 18,493 (about 55 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 33,393 inspections, 14,900 (about 45 percent) were programmed inspections. Programmed inspections focus OSHA’s enforcement resources towards the industries and operations where known hazards exist (e.g., chemical processing, ship-breaking, trenching, and falls in construction).

OSHA Inspection Statistics FY 2014 FY 2015 FY 2016 FY 2017 FY 2018 FY 2019
Total Inspections 36,163** 35,820 31,948 32,408 32,023 33,393
Total Programmed Inspections 19,222 16,527 12,731 14,377 13,956 14,900
Total Unprogrammed Inspections 16,941 19,293 19,217 18,031 18,067 18,493
~ Fatality/Catastrophe Inspections 850 912 890 837 941 919
~ Complaints Inspection 9,570 9,037 8,870 8,249 7,489 7,391
~ Referrals* 3,829 6,569 6,691 6,286 6,463 6,718
~ Other Unprogrammed Inspections 2,525 3,686 2,766 2,659 3,174 3,465
*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 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. FY 2019 is the last year of EWS as it evolves to the OSHA Weighting System in FY 2020.

Enforcement Weighting Values OSHA Enforcement Weighting – FY 2019 Inspection Summary
Inspection Category EU Value Inspection Category Inspections EUs
Federal Agencies 2 Federal Agencies 633 1,266
Process Safety Management 7 Process Safety Management 172 1,204
Combustible Dust 2 Combustible Dust 373 746
5a1 Ergonomic 5 5a1 Ergonomic 31 155
5a1 Heat 4 5a1 Heat 197 788
5a1 Non-PEL Exposures 3 5a1 Non-PEL Exposures 11 33
5a1 Workplace Violence 3 5a1 Workplace Violence 40 120
Fatality/Catastrophe 3 Fatality/Catastrophe 880 2,640
Personal Sampling 2 Personal Sampling 1,192 2,384
Significant Cases 8 Significant Cases 106 848
Phone/Fax Complaints 1/9 Phone/Fax/Complaint* ----- 2,063 (18,573 complaints)
Rapid Response Investigations 1/9 Rapid Response Investigations (RRIs)* ----- 924 (8,318 RRIs)
Non-Weighted Inspections 1 Non-Weighted Inspections 29,758 29,758
  Total 33,393 42,929

*Phone/Fax complaints and RRIs are not inspections and not included in the number of inspections. A value of 1 EU is assigned for every 9 Phone/Fax complaints or RRIs.

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.