New OSHA Weighting System For Workplace Inspections

Source: Oleg Dudko - 123RF

Effective today, October 1st, OSHA is implementing its Weighting System (OWS) for fiscal year (FY) 2020.

OWS will encourage the appropriate allocation of resources to support OSHA’s balanced approach of promoting safe and healthy workplaces, and continue to develop and support a management system that focuses enforcement activities on critical and strategic areas where the agency’s efforts can have the most impact.

Under the current enforcement weighting system, OSHA weights certain inspections based on the time taken to complete the inspection or, in some cases, the impact of the inspection on workplace safety and health. OWS recognizes that time is not the only factor to assess when considering the potential impact of an inspection.

Other factors – such as types of hazards inspected and abated, and effective targeting – also influence the impact on workplace safety and health. The new system adds enforcement initiatives such as the Site-Specific Targeting to the weighting system.

The OWS replaces the current enforcement weighting system initiated in FY 2015. The new system is based on an evaluation of the existing criteria and a working group’s recommendations regarding improvements to the existing weighting system.

OSHA has been running the new weighting system currently to confirm data integrity.  

The system will continue to weight inspections but will do so based on other factors, including agency priorities and the impact of inspections, rather than simply on a time-weighted basis.

The new OWS approach reinforces OSHA’s balanced approach to occupational safety and health (i.e., strong and fair enforcement, compliance assistance and recognition) and will incorporate the three major work elements performed by the field:

  • Enforcement activity;
  • Essential enforcement support functions (e.g., severe injury reporting and complaint resolution); and
  • Compliance assistance efforts.

About 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses were reported to OSHA by private industry employers in 2017, occurring at a rate of 2.8 cases per 100 full-time workers.

Approximately 2,100 OSHA 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.

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