OSHA says its inspection regime will remain active and it plans to use various data sets to target bad actors and recalcitrant employers. The Agency’s strategic objective, found in the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) draft version of the FY 2018-2022 Strategic Plan, is “to secure safe and healthful working conditions for America’s workers.” According to the plan, federal OSHA and State Plan States work to inspect almost 7.7 million establishments in the U.S. Although the likelihood of any one workplace receiving an inspection in a given year is low, OSHA says it will continue to target high-risk industries for inspection and enforcement activity.
DOL released the draft plan to provide stakeholders the opportunity to provide comments. The plan presents the Labor Secretary’s vision, the Department’s mission, and a description of how DOL’s component agencies will achieve supporting goals and strategic objectives.
In addition to administering the far-reaching whistleblower protection provisions of Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act), OSHA plans to maintain a strong worker safety enforcement program. The Agency will invest in “credible enforcement practices for recalcitrant employers and provide the appropriate deterrent.”
OSHA says that enforcement is the “underpinning of the OSH Act.” But the Agency also recognizes the need for a balanced approach through different strategies for employers based on their commitment to workplace safety and health. Further, OSHA will use strong deterrent strategies for employers that disregard their obligations to keep employees safe, including employers with a history of willful and repeat violations or criminal violations.
The Agency also plans to provide compliance assistance to employers to help them “attain workplace safety and health excellence.” OSHA’s compliance assistance activities include using outreach tools to communicate Agency expectations and voluntary and cooperative partnership programs. Part of the plan includes expanding the existing Voluntary Protection Program. These partnerships, OSHA says, help the Agency to better leverage resources and encourage employers to exceed minimum compliance with the OSH Act.
Finally, OSHA says it will reach out to the segment of employers who lack information or who may be hesitant to engage with the Agency. To do this, OSHA will work with industry groups and employers who have already achieved excellence in safety and health.