New Inspection Weighting System

In October, OSHA moved to a new enforcement weighting system that assigns greater value to complex inspections that require more time and resources. The new system will allow for more strategic planning and measurement of inspections and ensure that all workers are equally protected, regardless of the industry they work in.

The system assigns "enforcement units" to each inspection. Routine inspections count as one unit, while those requiring greater resources—such as those involving musculoskeletal disorders, chemical exposures, workplace violence, and process safety management violations—count as a maximum of nine units. The values are based on historical data and will be monitored and adjusted as necessary.

OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels announced the change at the National Safety Council conference in Atlanta. "All inspections aren't equal—some are complex and require more time and resources—and many of those inspections have the greatest impact," he said. "This new system will help us better focus our resources on more meaningful inspections."

Inspections are one of the fundamental tools OSHA uses to encourage employers to abate hazards. Strong evidence from several recent studies shows that injury rates decrease at an establishment in the years following an OSHA inspection.

Companies' Recordkeeping Data to Be Put Online

OSHA’s “Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses” draft final rule arrived at the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs on Oct. 5. The proposal was unveiled two years ago. It should be noted that some have speculated that finalization of the regulations may take up to another year.

The proposed rule would add three new electronic reporting requirements for companies:

  1. Establishments that are already required to keep injury and illness records and had 250 or more employees in the previous calendar year will have to electronically submit information from these records to OSHA on a quarterly basis.
  2. Establishments that are already required to keep injury and illness records and had 20 or more employees in the previous calendar year, and are in certain designated industries, will have to electronically submit the information from the OSHA annual summary Form 300A to OSHA.
  3. All employers who receive notification from OSHA will have to electronically submit specified information from their injury and illness records to OSHA.

OSHA intends to place on a public website information that is not prevented by federal law. The agency has posted a mock-up of what the data entry website could look like.

It should be noted that some business groups such as the National Association of Manufactures have opposed these regulations saying that without the proper context, the online information may result in inappropriate conclusions about a company or industry.

Updates to OSHA Field Operations Manual

As of Oct. 1, 2015, OSHA inspectors are following a new Field Operations Manual (FOM).

Its purpose, as laid out on the manual’s cover page:

“To provide OSHA offices, State Plan programs and federal agencies with policy and procedures concerning the enforcement of occupational safety and health standards. Also, this instruction provides current information and ensures occupational safety and health standards are enforced with uniformity.”

Key sections that employers should pay special attention to are those covering workplace violence, incentive programs, what constitutes repeat violations, penalty adjustment factors, and the determination of filing criminal charges.

OSHA Safety Committees to Convene

OSHA's Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health will meet in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 1–2 for updates and discussions with agency officials.

Three working groups—Health Hazards, Emerging Issues, and Prevention through Design; Temporary Workers; and Training and Outreach—will meet Dec. 1, from 1 to 5 p.m. The full committee meets the following day from 8:30 a.m. to noon.

Both meetings will be in Room N-4437, A-D, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave., N.W., Washington, DC 20210. The meetings are open to the public. Comments and requests to speak may be submitted electronically, by mail, or by fax. See the Federal Register notice for details. Comments and requests to speak must be submitted by Nov. 13, 2015.

The tentative agenda includes remarks from Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, followed by updates from the Directorate of Construction and information about OSHA data and the 2015 National Safety Stand-Down. The group will also discuss a recommendation to eliminate from OSHA standards the requirement for employee social security numbers.

Additionally, OSHA is accepting nominations for six new members to serve on the 15-member committee. Nominations are sought for members representing employees (2), employers (2), the general public (1), and state safety and health agencies (1). Nominations may be submitted electronically, by mail, or by fax; see the Federal Register notice for requirements. The deadline for submissions is Dec. 28, 2015.

OSHA will also hold a meeting of the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health, Dec. 1–2, 2015, in Washington, D.C. The Temporary Workers Work Group will meet Dec. 1 and the full committee will meet Dec. 2.

The tentative agenda for the committee meeting includes an update on OSHA initiatives from Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels; remarks from Director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. John Howard; a report from the NACOSH Emergency Response and Preparedness Subcommittee; and a report from the NACOSH Temporary Workers Work Group on developing best practice language including protecting temporary workers in injury and illness protection programs.

The Temporary Workers Work Group will continue discussions of workplace safety and health issues related to temporary workers including workplace protections and joint responsibility of host employers and staffing agencies for temporary workers. The work group will develop and present recommendations for the full committee's consideration.

NACOSH will meet from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Dec. 2, in C-5320, Room 6 at the U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave., N.W., Washington, DC 20210. Some committee members may attend by teleconference. The work group will meet from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Dec. 1, in the same room. Both meetings are open to the public. Comments and requests to speak at the NACOSH meeting may be submitted electronically, by mail, or by fax. See the Federal Register notice for details. The deadline for submitting comments and requests to speak is Nov. 20, 2015.