OSHA’s inspection summary for fiscal year 2018 shows the agency conducted fewer inspections than the previous fiscal year, but certain types of inspections were up.
In FY 2018, federal OSHA conducted a total of 32,023 inspections, down just over 1% from 32,408 in FY 2017.
There are two major reasons for the slight decline. One: There are fewer OSHA inspectors than in previous years.
The other is a continued emphasis on some of the more hazardous workplace issues such as ergonomics, heat, chemical exposure, workplace violence and process safety management. These inspections take longer, so fewer inspections are conducted overall.
The number of these types of inspections increased from FY17 to FY18:
- process safety management
- heat (under the General Duty Clause)
- exposure to substances where no OSHA permissible exposure limit exists (under GDC)
- fatality/catastrophe, and
- significant cases (those with fines over $180,000).
In its report, OSHA emphasized its recent concentration on unprogrammed inspections – those that result from employee complaints, injuries/fatalities and referrals. Referrals can come from other safety and health agencies, other city/county/state/federal governments, media, employers, and compliance safety and health officers (example: inspector happens to drive by construction site and sees a violation).
Unprogrammed OSHA inspections are now 56% of the total.
Programmed inspections focus on industries and facilities where known hazards exist, such as combustible dust, chemical processing, ship-breaking and falls in construction.
Rapid Response Investigations up
OSHA also performed more Rapid Response Investigations (RRIs), going from 7,627 in FY17 to 8,165 in FY18, a 7% increase. RRIs are part of OSHA’s Severe Injury Reporting Program that began Jan. 1, 2015. Under the program, employers are required to report to OSHA any fatality within 8 hours and any amputation, physical loss of an eye or inpatient hospitalization within 24 hours.
Employers reporting these situations will either be inspected in person by OSHA or be part of an RRI. When there’s an RRI, the employer is required to tell OSHA the root causes of the injuries and what it plans to do to prevent similar situations in the future.