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DOL OIG to OSHA: Do more to ensure hazards are corrected

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Washington – OSHA needs to do more to ensure employers correct hazards that are identified during inspections, according to a recent audit from the Department of Labor Office of Inspector General.

DOL OIG issued its report March 31 after analyzing OSHA’s citations and follow-up efforts during fiscal year 2015. A closer look determined that OSHA did not ensure employers made adequate, timely corrections in about 16 percent of cited cases, the audit states.

OSHA required an average of 81 days to issue a citation when employers did not abate the hazard within 24 hours, and about 67 of the 200 sampled citations lacked evidence that OSHA conducted history searches to identify previous violations.

DOL OIG included in the audit five recommendations for OSHA:

  • Reinforce policies to staff regarding the documentation the agency requires employers to submit as evidence they have abated a cited hazard.
  • Reevaluate agency policy on time frames for issuing citations, and determine if there is a need to develop different time frames for different types of citations.
  • Evaluate methods for smaller and transient construction employers to timely verify abatement when abatement cannot be obtained during the inspection.
  • Revise policies to provide clearer guidance on how to obtain abatement verification at smaller construction sites where contractors become inactive in a very short period of time.
  • Require compliance safety and health officers to document if they conducted a pre-inspection history search on employers to help determine if a repeat or willful citation should be issued.

OSHA responded to the audit in a March 22 letter. The agency accepted the first recommendation, but “respectfully disagreed” with the final four recommendations.

“As a basis for its recommendations, OIG analyzed a narrow set of 200 citations,” the letter states. “This conclusion is wholly inconsistent with OSHA’s analysis of over 140,000 citations over two fiscal years, which shows that less than one percent of all citations were not abated.”

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