OSHA's Records Inspections May Rise in 2005

By Nash, James L. | Occupational Hazards, February 2005 | Go to article overview

OSHA's Records Inspections May Rise in 2005


Nash, James L., Occupational Hazards


Facilities in high-hazard industries that report low rates of injuries and illnesses may be doing something right--or they may be doing something wrong. In an effort to ensure injuries and illnesses are being recorded, Rich Fairfax, the director of OSHA's enforcement programs, said he expects the agency in 2005 will increase the number of low-rate/high-hazard facilities in the agency's Site Specific Targeting (SST) program. Placing the sites in SST increases the chances they will receive a programmed inspection.

In an interview, Fairfax said OSHA put 250 such facilities into the SST program last year. While his plan to increase that number needs to be approved by other agency officials. Fairfax said, "I think it's going to happen."

OSHA's recordkeeping standard was revised in 2002 and one reason to tighten enforcement of the rule now, Fairfax explained, is that employers have had several years to adjust to the new requirements.

The original rationale for going to companies with extremely low rates in high-hazard industries was that if the numbers are valid, it means the organizations have superb safety programs. In such cases, OSHA would want to encourage the companies to join the agency's Voluntary Protection Program or other cooperative programs reserved for organizations with exemplary safety records.

"If, on the other hand, we find they're cooking the books, we're going to go after them," Fairfax said. …

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