OSHA to Give Greater Weight to Complex, Time-Consuming Inspections

OSHA is moving to a new enforcement weighting system that assigns greater value to complex inspections that require more time and resources. The new system will allow for more strategic planning and measurement of inspections and ensure that all workers are equally protected, regardless of the industry in which they work.

OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels announced the change at the National Safety Council conference in Atlanta last week. "All inspections aren't equal — some are complex and require more time and resources — and many of those inspections have the greatest impact," he said. "This new system will help us better focus our resources on more meaningful inspections."

The system assigns "Enforcement Units" to each inspection. Routine inspections count as one unit, while those requiring greater resources — such as those involving musculoskeletal disorders, chemical exposures, workplace violence, and process safety management violations — count as up to nine units. The values are based on historical data and will be monitored and adjusted as necessary.

Inspections are one of the fundamental tools OSHA uses to encourage employers to abate hazards. Evidence from several recent studies shows that injury rates decrease at an establishment in the years following an OSHA inspection.

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