US Dept of Labor

Occupational Safety & Health AdministrationWe Can Help

OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents
Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.
Trade News Release Banner Image

News Release USDL: 96-131
Wednesday, April 3, 1996
Contact: Susan Hall Fleming (202) 219-8151

OSHA Inspectors To Collect Data For Criminal Prosecution And Contact Victims' Families Early In Fatality Investigations

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has instructed its compliance officers to review fatality and catastrophe cases for possible criminal prosecution and to establish early contact with victims' families as part of an overhaul of its inspection guidelines.

"OSHA will place a high priority on prosecuting employers whose willful neglect results in worker deaths," Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Joseph A. Dear said in announcing the updated instructions.

"Obviously the Justice Department cannot take on every case we believe has merit. Nevertheless, we intend to carefully document evidence during our inspections and refer to Justice those cases we think demonstrate employer disregard for employee welfare. At the same time, we will contact victims' families early in our investigation and then share our findings with them," Dear added.

The revised 10-page guidelines outline steps for OSHA staff to take in determining whether there may be criminal violations of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act of 1970. The OSH Act permits criminal prosecution of employers who willfully violate OSHA standards when that violation results in the death of one or more workers.

Under the March 1, 1996, directive, OSHA staff will contact family members of victims promptly to discuss the circumstances of the accident or illness. A letter will be sent to the family member listed as the emergency contact on the victim's employment records. Family members who respond to the letter may be asked for additional information to assist with the investigation. They will be kept up to date on the status of the investigation and will receive a copy of all citations, any subsequent settlement agreements or Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission decisions as these are issued.

The updated guidelines also cover internal review of the case before the agency issues citations and the handling of formal and informal settlement agreements. If the incident has not destroyed the workplace, the guidelines call for a follow-up inspection if citations for serious violations have been issued.

Employers must report catastrophes--accidents resulting in inpatient hospitalization of three or more workers--and fatalities to OSHA within eight hours. Investigating the circumstances of these workplace tragedies is one of OSHA's highest priorities. Only imminent dangers--conditions likely to result in death or serious physical harm--rank higher.

States operating their own OSHA programs are encouraged to adopt similar procedures for their fatality investigations.

OSHA's Instruction CPL 2.113, "Fatality Inspection Procedures," is available on the Internet at http://www.osha.gov under Other OSHA Documents, Directives, CPL 2.113. This information also will be placed on an upcoming issue of the OSHA CD-ROM. Single printed copies are available by mail to requestors who send a self-addressed label to OSHA Publications, P.O. Box 37535, Washington, D.C. 20013-7535.


Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents

Thank You for Visiting Our Website

You are exiting the Department of Labor's Web server.

The Department of Labor does not endorse, takes no responsibility for, and exercises no control over the linked organization or its views, or contents, nor does it vouch for the accuracy or accessibility of the information contained on the destination server. The Department of Labor also cannot authorize the use of copyrighted materials contained in linked Web sites. Users must request such authorization from the sponsor of the linked Web site. Thank you for visiting our site. Please click the button below to continue.

Close