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Federal inspection of congressional workplaces finds 'readily apparent' hazards

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Photo: Architect of the Capitol

Washington – Safety inspections of congressional offices and other legislative branch worksites during the 113th Congress revealed more hazards than had been found during the previous Congress, including many that should have been “readily apparent” to supervisors and employees, according to a new report from the Office of Compliance’s Office of General Counsel.

The report, released in August, details the number and types of hazards OGC identified during the Congresses covering the years 2011-2012 and 2013-2014.

Although the increase in identified hazards during the 113th Congress could be attributed to more facilities being inspected and more observations of employees working, the report authors concluded that OGC’s biennial inspections seem to be considered part of legislative facilities’ preventive maintenance and appear to have replaced self-inspections. The authors recommend better safety education among employers and employees.

Most hazards found in the risk-based inspections during the past two Congresses were electrical. Other hazards included means of egress, machinery and machine guarding, walking/working surfaces, and fire protection. The Thomas Jefferson Building had the most identified hazards in the 113th Congress, and the Cannon House Office Building had the most in the 112th Congress.