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March 14, 2013
Report encourages OSHA to focus on outcomes

A report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) recommends that OSHA improve the way it monitors enforcement and program effectiveness, especially for state plans.

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According to the document, “OSHA’s lack of consistent guidance for audits of these state-run programs may allow enforcement deficiencies to go undetected, increasing the risk of worker injuries, illnesses, or death.”

The report found that OSHA officials review federal activities considerably more often than they review state-run activities.

The GAO acknowledged that OSHA has taken steps to better assess its effectiveness since a spate of employee deaths in Nevada. However, it is not clear how the steps will help OSHA show which efforts most benefit workers.

For example, the agency has revised measures to assess state-run programs, but still focuses on metrics like the average number of violations per inspection, rather than on outcomes.

The GAO recommends that OSHA standardize guidance for its audit practices, include outcomes in its assessments, make better use of audit data, and ensure participation from the national office in audits.

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