Employers With Reported Fatalities Were Not Always Properly Identified And Inspected Under OSHA’s Enhanced Enforcement Program

Source: United States Department of Labor, Office of the Inspector General, Report Number: 02-09-203-10-105, March 31, 2009

For Enhanced Enforcement Program (EEP) qualifying employers with fatalities, OSHA did not always properly identify and conduct cases according to EEP requirements. For 97 percent of sampled EEP qualifying cases, OSHA did not comply with EEP requirements for at least one of the following: designating EEP cases, inspections of related worksites, enhanced follow-up inspections, and enhanced settlement provisions. Moreover, OSHA designated 29 EEP cases, but did not take any of the appropriate enhanced enforcement actions. Sixteen of the 29 employers subsequently had 20 fatalities, of which 14 fatalities were in cases that shared similar violations as the EEP qualifying cases.

Furthermore, the qualifying history component of the 2008 revised directive reduced the number of cases; delayed designation; and increased the risk that employers with multiple EEP qualifying and/or fatality cases may not be properly designated due to the lack of quality history data. As a result, fewer employers may be subjected to EEP enhanced enforcement actions and may incur more fatalities before designation occurs.

OSHA has not placed the appropriate management emphasis and resources on this program to ensure indifferent employers were properly designated for EEP and subject to enhanced enforcement actions. By more effectively utilizing the EEP program, OSHA could potentially reduce the risk of future injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. While we cannot conclude that enhanced enforcement would prevent subsequent fatalities, full and proper application of EEP procedures may have deterred and abated workplace hazards at the worksites of 45 employers where 58 subsequent fatalities occurred.

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