Federal agencies

OSHA says fatality investigations up, overall investigations down in FY 2018

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Washington — OSHA conducted its highest number of fatality/catastrophe investigations in more than a decade in fiscal year 2018, while overall inspections decreased 1.2% from FY 2017, the agency’s latest enforcement summary shows.

OSHA recorded 941 fatality/catastrophe investigations in FY 2018, spanning Oct. 1, 2017, to Sept. 30, 2018. That’s a 12.4% increase from its 837 total in FY 2017 and the agency’s highest number since 1,043 in FY 2007.

OSHA conducted 32,023 total inspections in FY 2018, a number that has remained relatively stable over the past three fiscal years. After posting 35,820 total inspections in FY 2015, the agency recorded 31,948 and 32,408 over the next two fiscal years, respectively.

Enforcement units in the agency’s Enforcement Weighting System, which places values on certain types of inspections, also dropped slightly to 41,796 in FY 2018 from 41,829 in FY 2017.

Meanwhile, the number of OSHA inspectors, also known as compliance safety and health officers, has dwindled. The agency had a record-low 875 CSHOs as of Jan. 1, according to a National Employment Law Project data brief issued in March. A federal hiring freeze during the first year of the Trump administration, as well as retirements and resignations, is partially to blame, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) noted during an April 3 congressional appropriations hearing.

 

The Department of Labor has committed to adding 26 new full-time equivalent inspectors to the agency for the upcoming fiscal year after OSHA hired 76 CSHOs in FY 2018.

Former Secretary of Labor R. Alexander Acosta testified during the April 3 hearing that he expects inspections to increase once new CSHOs are up to speed. In his written testimony for that hearing, Acosta conceded that it could take one to three years to get the CSHOs working in the field unsupervised.

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