U.S. OSHA Targets 15,000 Facilities with High Incident Rates

Apr 4th, 2010 | By | Category: Health and Safety

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced last month that 15,000 employers were notified by letter that injury and illness rates at their work sites were higher than average. OSHA is urging these businesses to seek the expertise they might need to address the root causes of their poor performance. OSHA was also quick to alert the letter recipients that they would be subject to OSHA’s targeted inspection process. This particular OSHA target focuses on those workplaces with injuries and illnesses that result in days away from work, restricted work activity or job transfers (i.e., DART rate). Companies receiving notifications had DART rates more than twice the national average among those U.S. workplaces surveyed. [Click here to determine if one of your locations is on the target list: http://www.osha.gov/as/opa/foia/hot_16.html]

OSHA also provided information to these employers on the most frequently cited standards for their industries. Businesses may profit from reviewing this list and learning the shortcomings of others; they can then address any issues they might discover.

Increased Enforcement

All businesses operating in the United States are certainly aware of, and are quite possibly feeling the effects of, the new OSHA administration. OSHA is deliberately focused on ensuring regulatory compliance, identifying hazards and reducing workplace injuries. In 2009, the increase in OSHA activity was witnessed through inspection reports, site visits, aggressive issuing of citations, and National Emphasis Programs for specific programs and industries. Also making the headlines have been the large fines and cases in which OSHA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have worked together to penalize, and even pursue criminal action against, employers and their management members.

Whether or not a business is currently on OSHA’s DART list, this stepped-up enforcement creates an important opportunity for business leaders to review the results of their company’s performance and challenge the effectiveness of their company’s health and safety program.

Self Assessment

To improve your company’s safety performance, ask yourself:

  • What will I do if OSHA comes knocking?
  • Are the activities, processes and systems that I have developed actually working to create a safe work environment?
  • Are people working safely because of the culture I have created?
  • How do people behave when no one else is watching? How will I change the way people behave? How will I sustain a culture where people are safe and want to work safely?
  • Do I know the vast compliance obligations?

About the Author

Stacey Lucas is a partner with Environmental Resources Management based in Pittsburgh, PA U.S.A. She has sixteen years in the safety and environmental field, specializing in EHS performance improvement programs, auditing, and management systems. Since 2006 Stacey has been heavily focused on helping organizations transform their performance. Specifically, this includes assessing existing systems, leadership (e.g., trust, care), risks and legal compliance to determine current state compared with their desired future state. Next steps include commitment workshops, change plans and implementation /intervention strategies.

Stacey has functioned in a global corporate role where her initial responsibilities were to establish corporate expectations and the global compliance assurance process. She currently serves as a technical advisor on two organizations’ Executive Council EHS Board of Directors. Each of these Boards is responsible for providing overall EHS leadership to their organizations.

Image: Red Background by Jana Kollarova,  Zilina, vlcince, Slovakia.

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4 Comments to “U.S. OSHA Targets 15,000 Facilities with High Incident Rates”

  1. Austin Kid says:

    It’s nice to know that OSHA is taking a step forward. They have managed to inform everybody on the incidence of occupational accidents. Kudos to OSHA because they are more observant in their inspections. Now, the incident rate is quite alarming. It’s a good thing that they’re now taking action.

  2. Toni Eatros says:

    I think OSHA makes a good move. Health must be prioritize before work. Employees must be taken care because there are some works that are prone to hazards and are not concern with the workers. And workers must do their part as well. Overdedicated workers aren’t appreciable because they might forget their good health and often abuse their body for the work. Both the employers and the workers are liable for the health conditions of the individuals working inside the premises they are in. And I guess OSHA’s moves are definitely helpful to the people involved.

  3. Bill says:

    This type of change can be extremely hard to make as it works against the perception of its value by the owners and managers.

    That being said, it is not only important but required, and failure to react and make changes is going to impact the bottom line of the business.

    Unfortunately, change for many will only come with the “Stick” (penalties, fines) and not the “Carrot” safer working conditions, happy workers, less days lost to injury.

  4. Hatnohat says:

    “OSHA is urging these businesses to seek the expertise they might need to address the root causes of their poor performance.”

    Can OSHA take action based on benchmarking incidents?

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