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Annual DOL OIG report points to challenges for OSHA and MSHA

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Photo: Kiyoshi Tanno/iStockphoto

Washington — OSHA “continues to be hampered” by the lack of a permanent standard on infectious diseases aimed at protecting workers in high-risk industries and needs to start working on a rule, the Department of Labor Office of Inspector General says in its annual report for 2022.

Without a permanent standard on infectious diseases, “OSHA will not be in a position to effectively protect the safety and health of workers operating in high-risk industries during future pandemics or endemics” the report states. DOL OIG advises the agency to use the American Rescue Plan Act funding of at least $100 million for COVID-19-related activities, including enforcement at high-risk workplaces such as health care facilities and meat/poultry processing plants.

Other recommendations:

  • Complete initiatives to improve employer reporting of severe injuries and illnesses.
  • Enhance staff training on hazard abatement verification, especially of smaller and transient construction employers.
  • Look at ways to enhance interagency collaboration to “take advantage of inspections being conducted by OSHA’s counterparts in the federal government.”

For the Mine Safety and Health Administration, DOL OIG says the agency needs to direct its attention to any backlog of suspended or reduced enforcement stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. MSHA also should “improve internal controls related to its violation process” and give extra training to inspectors.

Additionally, MSHA needs to promulgate a standard for a lower respirable crystalline silica exposure limit, and increase silica sampling and enforcement at mines. 

The agency also should “continue its existing efforts to decrease powered-haulage accidents by completing required inspections, enhancing training and increasing knowledge sharing about available technology.”

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