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October 05, 2015
OSHA: No more counting inspections
By Ana Ellington, Legal Editor

Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) David Michaels, PhD, announced a new enforcement strategy during the 2015 National Safety Council Congress & Expo in which the Agency will no longer count the number of inspections it conducts in an effort to emphasize quality over quantity.

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The Agency currently averages 40,000 inspections a year. Under the Enforcement Weighting System—which goes into effect in fiscal year 2016—OSHA will no longer tally inspections, but rather will concentrate on the more complicated, time-consuming cases, according to Michaels.

“I think you’ll see more complex inspections, and I think those end up being the more impactful inspections,” Michaels said.

These complex inspections will include chemical exposures, ergonomic issues, and workplace violence problems, among other topics that require more in-depth analyses. Another area the Agency is working on is the issue with controls in multiemployer worksites.

Michaels made it very clear that OSHA will not be shy in its use of the General Duty Clause (GDC) even in cases where a standard exists but an employer could have provided more protections for its employees.
The assistant secretary said that under the GDC of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act employers are required to provide employees with a safe and healthful place of employment. Injuries and illnesses are preventable.

Michaels added that he had to make a comment on human error. Human error may be a component of an incident, but a system to prevent incidents is needed. “Human error is not the cause of the problem. It is the consequence,” Michaels said.



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