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.

May 29, 1997

Jim Dykes, CSP
Corporate Director of Safety
Interstate Brands Corporation
3049 Tamarak Drive
Manhattan, Kansas 66502

Dear Mr. Dykes:

This is in further response to your letter of December 28, 1996, to me regarding using 1992 data to "program" inspections. I apologize for the delay in responding.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Instruction CPL 2.25I was issued in December 1994 and it describes the development of the programmed inspection lists for fiscal year 1995 (FY95). The methodology described in CPL 2.25I has not been changed for FY96 and FY97. Each year, however, the data has been updated to the most current data.

OSHA updates its targeting list each year with the most recently available data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). BLS data, however, is on a calendar year and is normally released to OSHA 15 months after the close of that calendar year for use in the next fiscal year. That is, the OSHA FY 1997 targeting list was made available to the OSHA area offices on October 1, 1996 (the first day of FY97) based on BLS data from calendar year 1994. It is, therefore, the 1994 BLS data, not 1992 data, that is used for OSHA's programmed inspection list for FY97.

ANSI Z16.1 was withdrawn in May 1988 and it is not a standard that OSHA ever adopted. There is also nothing that prevents OSHA from using the Lost Workday Injury and Illness rate to prioritize industries for programmed inspections. You are correct in that OSHA does not use the terms "Frequency" and "Severity" as part of its recordkeeping system. Those terms were used in the old ANSI injury recording system.

The term used in the OSHA Field Inspection Reference Manual (FIRM) is "Lost Work Day Injury (LWDI) Rate" and not "Lost Work Day Case Rate." The LWDI rate is a term that has been used for many years in OSHA recordkeeping procedures. Enclosed is the booklet Recordkeeping Guidelines for Occupational Injuries and Illnesses, which includes definitions of terms used. On page 59 you will find the term "incident rate" defined.

OSHA's authority to inspect a facility comes directly from the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, and OSHA's programmed inspection programs stand the test of Marshall v. Barlow's.

OSHA bases its priority for each industry on the performance of that industry. If that industry is included by an area office for inspection, then all workplaces in that industry are selected for inspection. At this time OSHA has to treat all companies in the same industry in the same way because OSHA does not have the data to differentiate between individual companies. You ask OSHA to remove Wholesale Bakeries, Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) 2051, from its inspection schedule. This is something OSHA cannot do at this time because of the industry's performance.

OSHA is, however, seeking to improve its inspection targeting system by utilizing establishment-specific data -- including workers' compensation data -- wherever possible. The intended result of this is to direct our inspection activity where it is most needed, and not at responsible employers who happen to fall within a SIC code with a high injury/illness rate.

If you feel the BLS numbers are unreliable, you are free to discuss your reservation directly with BLS. BLS has been collecting and publishing these data for over 25 years and is always striving to improve their data series and publications. You may write to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Office of Safety, Health and Working Conditions, 2 Massachusetts Avenue, NE, Washington, DC 20212.

If you have any questions, you may contact Helen Rogers of my staff at (202) 219-8031 x121 or Joseph DuBois in OSHA's Office of Statistics at (202) 219-4981 x148.


John B. Miles, Jr., Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs