OSHA Inspections Likely to Increase

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An increase in workplace visits by OSHA inspectors is anticipated when recently hired inspectors are fully up to speed, according to an article in Safety + Health.

Alexander Acosta, US Dept of Labor Secretary, told a congressional hearing last week that OSHA inspections exceeded 32,000 in FYs 2017 and 2018 – surpassing the 31,948 total in FY 2016 – despite attrition of compliance safety and health officers at the agency.

The number of CSHOs was a record-low 875 as of Jan. 1, according to a National Employment Law Project data brief published March 14.

Acosta also called attention to a decrease of 43 workplace fatalities from calendar year 2016 to CY 2017 – the most recent data available – and more than 40,000 fewer workplace injuries.

NELP, however, states in its brief that OSHA conducted 929 fatality/catastrophe investigations in 2018, the most in a decade. That may indicate an increase in fatalities when the Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes its Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, likely in December.

Acosta conceded that some inspections involved compliance assistance, and the NELP brief noted that OSHA’s enforcement units in its Enforcement Weighting System, which places values on certain types of inspections, have trended slightly downward over the past three fiscal years.

When asked about OSHA’s relatively flat budget proposal for FY 2020, Acosta pointed to an increase in enforcement funding (around $3.8 million more for federal enforcement) and the hiring of CSHOs.

The Department of Labor has committed to bringing 26 new full-time equivalent inspectors to the agency for the upcoming fiscal year and hired 76 CSHOs in FY 2018.

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