OSHA is trying to do more with less.
At least that’s the impression it gave when it recently announced a new weighting system for workplace safety and health inspections that’s expected to mean a greater emphasis on the construction and manufacturing industries.
As OSHA put it, its new approach was created to help agency employees better allocate resources and focus on “critical and strategic” areas that have the most impact.
As a result, OSHA will spend more of its time and energy on the Fatal Four – falls, caught-in-or-between, struck-by and electrocution accidents — all of which are the major causes of death for workers in the construction industry and account for almost 60% of jobsite deaths.
With the new system, the likelihood of a company being inspected will also rise for those with a fatality or catastrophe in its history.
“What (OSHA is) hoping to accomplish is, in high risk industries where there are larger numbers of injures, perhaps placing more attention on those industries would therefore reduce the rate of injuries and/or fatalities or illness,” Jim Thornton, chief of the government affairs committee for the American Society of Safety Professionals, told Business Insurance.
In the past, OSHA graded its investigators based on the number of inspections they made. The new approach encourages them to spend more time on more complex, lengthy cases rather than tackling “less-demanding inspections.”
Last year, in another shift in the way it decides which companies to investigate, OSHA began to put more emphasis in comparing companies’ injury records to those of their peers.
In that light, to avoid becoming an unwarranted inspection target, we advise companies to make sure they’re using the proper North American Industry Classification System code for peer comparison.
We also recommend you review your OSHA 300 log procedures and make sure that incidents that shouldn’t be recorded aren’t on the log.
For example, there’s no need to record a cut that required treatment but no stitches or a sprain that resulted in a doctor’s visit but no prescription. Likewise, a soft-tissue injury later determined not to be work-related can be removed from the log.
Small and medium-size employers tend to overreport injuries. Doing a so-so job with recordkeeping and overreporting could trigger an unintended invitation to the inspectors.
Scott Carlson is a Vice President at CCIG and leads the firm’s construction practice. Reach him at Scott.Carlson@thinkccig.com or 720-212-2040.
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