Safety and OSHA News

Tougher enforcement on the way in many states

Federal OSHA is cracking down on states that run their own occupational safety and health programs. For employers, that means more inspections and higher fines.

Following a newspaper investigation into Nevada’s program, OSHA found deficiencies in the state’s program.

That prompted enhanced checks on all 25 state and territory OSHA programs.

The Enhanced Federal Annual Monitoring and Evaluation reports found deficiencies including concerns about:

  • identification of hazards
  • proper classification of violations
  • proposed penalty levels, and
  • failure to follow up on violations to ensure problems are corrected.

Some states fared worse than others.

Hawaii had significant problems. OSHA says if Hawaii is unable to present a reasonable strategy for expeditiously improving its worker safety program, a federal takeover is possible.

Among the deficiencies in Hawaii:

  • The program didn’t respond to two out of nine (22%) complaints classified as imminent danger within a day of receiving the complaint.
  • HIOSH completed only 51% of its goal inspections in FY 2009.
  • In 56% of cases reviewed, HIOSH didn’t appropriately classify the violations and/or cite all of the obvious hazards.
  • Penalties weren’t always calculated properly.
  • Serious, willful and repeat violations weren’t always abated in a timely fashion, nor were follow-up inspections conducted in all instances when required.
  • HIOSH didn’t adopt federal OSHA standards within the six-month requirement.
  • None of the employees in the enforcement branch had completed all of the required classes listed in OSHA’s training directive.

Some states received praise for programs above and beyond federal OSHA’s, while at the same time being criticized.

For example, California was lauded for its injury and illness prevention program, which may become a model for one at the federal level.

However, Cal/OSHA had many areas that needed improvement, including serious concerns about the procedures and results of the appeals process which vary widely from federal precedent.

To find more information about your state, click here.

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