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OSHA Targets Warehouses for Inspections in 2014

Volume 2, Issue 5
March 15th, 2014
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forkliftWarehouse and freight transportation were included among OSHA’s top priorities for inspection actions this year when it released its Site-Specific Targeting 2014 Program Directive on Feb. 27.  Called SST-14, the directive replaces OSHA’s Site-Specific Targeting 2012. The agency said the program is intended to direct its enforcement resources to workplaces where the “highest rates of injuries rises and illnesses occur.”

The new directive calls for programmed inspection plans targeting high-hazard, non-construction workplaces that have 20 or more workers.

The inspection program is based on data collected from the last year’s OSHA Data Initiative survey of 80,000 establishments in high-hazard industries.

Among the targeted industries are warehousing, trucking, air transportation and courier services, manufacturing, automobiles, construction materials, scarp and waste, groceries, poultry products, department stores and medical facilities.

OSHA asserted that by directing enforcement resources to those workplaces where the highest rate of injuries and illnesses have occurred, the agency will achieve its goal of reducing the number of those injuries and illnesses.

Among other things, the directive provides a checklist for compliance safety and health officers and outlines scheduling and inspection procedures for them to use. According to the directive, the program’s primary inspection lists for federal jurisdiction area offices will target 1,260 private employer establishments.

Employers should expect a higher OSHA emphasis on inspections in 2014 because Congress increased OSHA’s funding above the 2013 sequestered spending limits to $552.2 million for this purpose.

While several compliance assistance programs were being cut, OSHA received $207.8 million for enforcement activities – the full amount that had been requested by the White House.

An agency spokesperson said OSHA would conduct 37,635 inspections this fiscal year on that budget of $207.8 million. Originally, the agency planned to do 39,250 inspections, but the 16-day government shutdown in October, 2013 cut that number by about 1,400 visits.

The agency also said it plans to use its 2014 inspection experience to develop a “weighting” system for use in the planning. Some inspections, such as process safety reviews, can take up to six months, while a construction worksite inspection may last only six hours.

Currently, both types of inspections are weighted the same by OSHA. By using a differentiated weighting approach in the future, the agency said it could measure and assign its limited resources more accurately.

OSHA’s whistleblower program received $2 million in new funds this year, less than the $6.9 million requested, which was sought to add 47 new hires to its 115-member whistleblower staff.

The agency said it needed the new positions to help reduce a case backlog and deal with additional work created by recent laws like the Affordable Care Act.

OSHA’s budget request predicted a backlog of 2,385 whistleblower requests in 2014. Last year, 82% of the 2,272 then-unresolved cases had been open for more than three months, with the average case pending for 13.6 months. Federal law mandates completing complaint investigations within one to three months.

So what will OSHA be looking for? The agency said its most frequent citations in 2013 were fall protection, hazard communication, powered industrial trucks, respiratory protection, ladders and scaffolding, lock out/tag out, electrical wiring methods and general electrical requirements.

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