OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov.
March 5 1990
MEMORANDUM FOR BYRON R. CHADWICK FROM: JOHN A. KATALINAS Director Office of Management Data Systems SUBJECT: IMIS Problems Raised in January 24, 1990 Memo
Your memorandum raised concerns related to the addition of an edit at the host to ensure that no case be closed without proper information related to abatement. OMDS adds edits to the IMIS only after considerable thought and analysis of the impact of these changes on the database and the field offices. The audit staff in the National Office had spent weeks analyzing the problem of closed cases with violations which were not updated with an abatement status. Part of the Reconcile program was to update all old cases in which this condition existed. We hoped that this would solve the problem with current data, but cases continued to be closed with abatements not completed. We felt that it was important that this information be accurate, especially in light of the IG's comments on abatement tracking.
Your observation that "the edit check rejects all OSHA-166 forms which concurrently show that the violations are abated and the casefile is closed" is in error. A message was distributed through Start-of-Day on February 5 to instruct offices on how to avoid the rejects they are reporting.
The reject observed when more than one violation is modified on a single OSHA-166 is inherent in the basic processing of the OSHA-166. For example, suppose that 3 violations need to be updated with their abatement status and the case closed. The operator creates a single OSHA-166 with multiple lines (one for each of the 3 violations) and the date closed. Each line is sent to the host as a separate form with the date case closed. When the first OSHA-166 is edited by the host, it tentatively applies the change indicated on the form and determines whether with that one change, the case could be closed. Since the second and third violations remain unabated, the case cannot be closed and the form is rejected. The host goes on to the second form, edits it and finds that the first and third violations remain open. It, too, is rejected. In the same way, the third OSHA-166 is rejected. Changes will be made with the data entry rewrite to try to eliminate these rejects as much as possible, but currently, no simple software change will solve the problem.
Your description of the new procedures that have been used for dealing with this situation reflects another misunderstanding on the part of your staff. The IMIS Forms Manual clearly states that you cannot use the "Close Case" field on the OSHA-166 unless at least one violation is changed. In the scenario you describe, no violation is modified and no OSHA-166 is created.
Your memorandum raises the issue of the timing of this change in relation to the rewrite of data entry on the micro. Many local edits will be added at that time, but this will not result in the removal of edits at the host. Fewer rejects should result with the local edits in place, but the host will continue to edit updates to its database. The rewrite is not anticipated to be available in the field until the fall but the problem can easily be eliminated if offices follow a few simple rules for updating cases via the IMIS.
We hope that this information helps assuage the inconvenience experienced by your offices and that they are able to quickly return to the procedures which contributed to top productivity. If we can be of further assistance, please don't hesitate to call.
January 24, 1990
MEMORANDUM FOR: JOHN KATALINAS Director, Office of Field Programs THROUGH: LEO CAREY Director, Office of Field Programs FROM: BYRON R. CHADWICK Regional Administrator, VIII SUBJECT: IMIS Problems
We have received some feedback from our field offices regarding an edit check that exists on the host computer. This edit check identifies cases that have been closed with open violations. Currently, the edit check rejects all OSHA-166 forms which concurrently show that the violations are abated and the casefile is closed. This edit check has caused some of the offices in this region to modify their procedures to the point where they feel this has slowed down production in their offices. The offices have to submit OSHA-166 forms to abate the violations, do an end-of-day transmission, then submit OSHA-166 forms for the same case files the next day to close the cases.
One of the Altos operators was told that the OSHA-166 form is to be changed in a year and the edit check will then be incorporated at the micro level. The operators feel that a year or more is a long time to wait before this edit check is removed from the host computer.
Another item of concern was that the area offices felt there was virtually no warning that this edit check was going into effect, nor were the offices asked how this change would affect them.
We wonder if it would be possible to change the program on the host computer to read the violation abatement information first, and then close the file. This would help the area offices, and not slow down production.
Any help or advice you can offer to improve this situation would be appreciated.