Federal agencies

Annual report highlights inspections at congressional worksites

US Botanic Garden
View of the United States Capitol and U.S. Botanic Garden Conservatory from the National Garden Photo: US Capitol Flickr

Washington — Fiscal year 2017 was “a dynamic year of growth and expansion” for the Office of Compliance, which is charged with overseeing the safety and health of federal legislative branch workers, OOC Executive Director Susan Tsui Grundmann said in the office’s annual report, released April 13.

The Congressional Accountability Act requires OOC’s Office of the General Counsel to review and report at least once per Congress on whether legislative-branch buildings comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Inspections cover all member offices in the House and Senate, as well as public assembly spaces in legislative-branch facilities – in all, 18 million square feet.

OGC began its OSH inspections for the 115th Congress in FY 2017. Inspectors covered the U.S. Botanic Garden, several Library of Congress buildings, House members’ offices, the Architect of the Capitol Construction Division and the U.S. Capitol Police, among others. They also inspected the newly completed Library of Congress Cabin Branch storage facility. Electrical hazards, means of egress and fire protection were the most common violations cited.

OGC opened five new health and safety-related cases in FY 2017, including one involving a fatality from a tree trunk that the report states led to improvements in the Capitol Hill urban tree management program.

A total of 27 cases were open at the start of FY 2017, 14 of which have been closed. Also in FY 2017, OOC partnered with the National Safety Council to recognize individuals and offices for their safety efforts.

OOC presented its Safety Advocate and Safety Recognition awards for the first time since 2010. Safety Advocate Awards went to two individuals for their standout contributions to legislative branch safety, while 69 Senate offices and 88 Representative offices received Safety Recognition Awards for maintaining hazard-free offices during the 114th Congress.

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