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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration faces “significant challenges in completing their mandates to ensure the protection of American workers’ safety and health,” says a report issued Wednesday by the Department of Labor’s Office of the Inspector General that names OSHA among the top performance challenges for the department.
The report said that the lapses are particularly noticeable in “high-risk industries such as health care, meat packing, agriculture, construction, fishing, forestry, manufacturing, and underground and surface mining.”
The OIG said it found OSHA had challenges “verifying hazards were abated timely,” adding that other problems exist in “completing inspections, employer reporting, reaching a sufficient number of worksites, standards on infectious diseases, workplace violence, and protecting workers from respirable crystalline silica.”
On verifying hazard abatement of safety concerns in both general industry and construction worksites, OSHA “closed many construction worksite citations for safety violations, not because the employers corrected the hazards, but because the construction projects had ended,” the report states.
“As a result, OSHA received no assurances employers would improve safety and health practices at future construction worksites,” it said.
OSHA has also “limited procedures for encouraging compliance with the injury and illness reporting requirement and for penalizing employers for noncompliance.” A recent OIG audit identified, on average, between 2016 and 2020, that 59% of establishments in all industries failed to submit their mandatory annual injury and illness reports to OSHA.
Acknowledging improvements, the OIG pointed to OSHA finalizing a new injury and illness reporting rule that will go into effect Jan. 1, 2024, revising the injury and illness reporting requirements for employers by adding a new category of workplaces — establishments with 100 or more employees in industries designated as very high-risk.