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OSHA Critiques State Safety Plans

Most state workplace safety programs don’t measure up and need additional taxpayer dollars to make sure they do, according to federal OSHA.

In its fiscal year 2015 survey of 21 state work safety programs the agency found most did not meet performance goals, largely blamed on high staff turnover and insufficient federal funding.

Of the 21 states, 15 did not meet their goals for the number of health inspections and 14 failed to meet their goals for total safety inspections.

However, most states reported better rates of compliance than the federal rate. The federal average for employers in compliance with safety laws was about 28%.

On the state level, at least one of three employers (33.33%) was found to be in safety compliance in the states of Arizona, Kentucky, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia, and Washington State.

The worst rate of compliance was reported in Hawaii, followed by Wyoming, Alaska, and Maryland. The report also found that in Alaska the state agency was failing to provide adequate training for compliance staff, including employees who had worked there for more than three years and had not yet received core training.

State fines are expected to increase in 2017, as states seek to match the 78% increase that federal OSHA put into effect for cases opened after Aug. 1.

According to the 2015 report, three states — California, Kentucky and Wyoming — had fines higher than the federal OSHA average of $2,003. Another 10 states imposed average serious violation fines of less than $1,000.

OSHA pointed out that 13 state-OSHA programs were less likely to issue citations when conducting inspections, with Indiana and Nevada producing citations in fewer than half inspections.

In federal OSHA cases, 28.5% of workplace inspections did not lead to employer citations.

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