OSHA Inspection Criteria, Facts, and Resources

March 1, 2012

We were priveleged to have had a face to face meeting with Director Michaels of OSHA earlier this year.

We brought up the topic of harsh regulatory tone.

Director Michaels characterized the agency as ‘small and needing strong means to remain effective.’

We congratulated him on the agency’s success at portraying themselves as aggressive regulators.

The OSHA website has this to say:

“OSHA is a small agency; with our state partners we have approximately 2,200 inspectors responsible for the health and safety of 130 million workers, employed at more than 8 million worksites around the nation – which translates to about one compliance officer for every 59,000 workers.”

Before getting too sympathetic,  a review of some facts might be in order:

Penalties doubled!

Actually average proposed penalties are up by 102%

Both Bark and Bite are big! OSHA statistics reveal that the average proposed penalty for a Serious violation doubled from $1,053 in 2010 to $2,132 in 2011- a 102% increase!

OSHA Budget is up!

FY 2011: $573,096,000

FY 2012: $583,386,000

Although by Washington DC standards a little over half a billion dollars and an increase of  $10.3 million dollars probably doesn’t seem like much money at all.

According to Sherman and Howard Law Blog

“Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, recently  stated that the higher penalties are still too low when compared to other  regulatory agencies. He defended the higher penalties as an important tool in  OSHA’s overall efforts to increase enforcement. In our view, this increase comes  as no surprise and employers can expect even higher penalties in 2012 and  beyond. “

OSHA seems to be taking this size thing to heart!

Since higher penalties remain an important tool and are still too low, and since OSHA cannot practically visit all 7 million workplaces it makes sense for employers to proactively address OSHA compliance.

When OSHA arrives, they will be itchin’ to do a great job.

The first place to start would be how does a small agency  prioritize its enforcement resources?

Inspection Priorities!

1. Imminent danger situations—hazards that could cause death or serious physical harm— receive top priority.

2. Fatalities and catastrophes—incidents that involve a death or the hospitalization of three or more employees—come next.

3. Complaints—allegations of hazards or violations also receive a high priority.

4. Referrals of hazard information from other federal, state or local agencies, individuals, organizations or the media receive consideration for inspection.

5. Follow-ups—checks for abatement of violations cited during previous inspections—are also conducted by the agency in certain circumstances.

6. Planned or programmed investigations— inspections aimed at specific high-hazard industries or individual workplaces that have experienced high rates of injuries and illnesses— also receive priority.

For more on these inspection priorities consult the OSHA Fact Sheet link below.

Back to Basics!

Train your people in

  • Personal Protective Equipment,
  • Lockout- Tagout,
  • Right To Know Haz Comm,
  • Slips Falls Tripping Hazards,
  • Machine Guarding,
  • Powered Industrial Trucks ,
  • Electrical- Wiring and General,

You can intelligently manage your risk of OSHA Enforcement and penalties by asking yourself these three questions and then doing something about them:

  • Do you have a process for managing safety?
  • Is it followed?
  • Is it effective?

As employers we have a general duty to maintain a safe workplace. Let’s take our duty seriously. You know the folks from OSHA will.


OSHA Inspection Fact Sheet

OSHA Field Manual

OSHA Employers Rights originally posted last October here

OSHA Stats

OSHA Top Ten


OSHA Spring Agenda: Proposals, Proposals!

April 29, 2010

On April 26, 2010, many of us were in Pittsburgh attending the PMPA’s National Technical Conference…

Connecting to find 'Tools You Can Use'

 …while OSHA Administrator David Michaels announced the OSHA spring regulatory agenda.

This agenda only represents the items that OSHA is moving agressively forward on at this time.  these are items Michaels characterized as “long overdue.”

Ambitious agenda.

Items that will impact your precision machining shop include:

  1. Injury and Illness Prevention Program
  2. Changing the Occupational Injury and Illness Recording and Reporting Requirements
  3. Adding a Musculoskeletal Disorders column to the OSHA 300 log
  4. Increased enforcement of Ergonomics under the “General Duty” clause.
  5. Beryllium
  6. Walking Working Surfaces

The Injury and Illness Prevention  ‘Plan-Prevent-Protect’ Program is a significant expansion of these kinds of requirements in the Labor Department. The proposed regulatory actions  require employers to develop programs to:

Plan –The Department will propose a requirement that employers and other regulated entities create a plan for identifying and remediating risks of legal violations and other risks to workers.

Prevent-The Department will propose a requirement that employers and other regulated entities thoroughly and completely implement the plan in a manner that prevents legal violations.

Protect- The Department will propose a requirement that the employer or other regulated entity ensures that the plan’s objectives are met on a regular basis. 

“Employerswho fail to take these steps… will be considered out of compliance with the lawsubject to remedial action.”-  excerpted from the Spring Agenda Narrative Page .

This sounds to me  remarkably like a means to get even more paperwork violations- a  pretext to fine employers even when no injury has occurred.

Copy of the Semiannual Regulatory Agenda

David Michaels photo credit Industry Week