OSHA should expand its site-specific targeting (SST) program to include employers with 11-19 workers, add some groups currently exempted from the program and encourage the states to do more, the Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) said in a report on the SST program in September.
SST currently exempts construction contractors, employers in industries not considered hazardous and worksites with fewer than 20 workers. OIG noted that 26 percent of all worksites with injury and illness rates high enough to have been included in the program were exempted because they had fewer than 20 workers, were in states that did not participate in the program, or were in industry groups not surveyed. OIG also found that worksites targeted by OSHA inspectors were almost four times as likely to be inspected as worksites covered by state agencies.
OIG recommended that OSHA include the highest-risk worksites listed in its annual OSHA Data Initiative survey, prioritize and complete inspections of the highest-risk worksites to ensure effective and efficient use of the program, complete an evaluation of SST and start a monitoring effort to continually evaluate the program’s effectiveness.
OSHA Assistant Secretary David Michaels pushed back in a five-page response, saying some of what OIG suggested would require policy changes that OSHA cannot control or could weaken other OSHA enforcement efforts. For instance, he said expanding inspections to include businesses with 11 to 19 workers could mean some large employers that are more likely to have violations would go uninspected. Michaels also pointed out that many employers not inspected under SST receive visits under OSHA emphasis programs.
Michaels said OSHA is looking at requiring more industries to report injury rates. A 2010 proposal would add 52 industry groups to those now required to report their industry and illness rates. However, that initiative has never made it past the proposed rulemaking stage. The Assistant Secretary also commented that OSHA cannot force states to participate.
SST is an annual program designed to target businesses with the highest days away from work, restricted or transferred rates. OSHA determines which companies go on the targeting list by analyzing OSHA 300 logs submitted by employers in industries that historically have high injury and illness rates. OIG’s audit covered SST program efforts from August 2010 through September 2011.