If a state tells its occupational safety and health inspectors that they have to find a higher percentage of serious, willful and repeat violations, has it set up a quota system?
That question involves the ongoing saga of Nevada OSHA.
A series of high-profile construction worker fatalities first called attention to the state’s workplace safety record. Six workers were killed at the new CityCenter construction site in Las Vegas alone. Other incidents resulted in more fatalities on major Las Vegas construction projects.
Federal OSHA conducted a review of the state’s program and then extended the investigation to all state workplace safety agencies.
Among the criticism the federal government leveled against Nevada OSHA was failure to cite serious, willful and repeat violations of safety regulations.
Nevada inspectors were averaging 22% serious, willful and repeat violations. The nationwide OSHA average is 79%.
“The feds told us, ‘You guys need to improve your game,'” said Steve Coffield, Nevada OSHA administrator. “Our performance basically has to work toward being as effective as federal OSHA’s.”
Nevada OSHA now requires its inspectors to find higher level citations in at least half of their inspections.
Some Nevada contractors say the rule amounts to a quota.
On top of that new policy, Nevada OSHA will increase the number of inspectors, and thus, inspections. It’s adding four new inspectors, a 10% increase to the agency’s ranks.
Coffield says there are no performance incentives to meet the quota or punishments for falling below the 50% level. Inspectors who don’t reach the new goal just get more training.
For those businesses concerned that the new rules will send inspectors on witch hunts, Coffield has this advice: “If you’re following the rules, and OSHA comes to visit you, you’re not going to have a problem.”
Do you think this amounts to a quota for Nevada OSHA inspectors? What do you think about the state’s new policy? Let us know in the Comments Box below.