The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has launched a one-year National Emphasis Program (NEP) to inspect the accuracy of injury and illness recording and reporting by employers. The NEP will focus on identifying and correcting under-recording of workplace injuries and illnesses by employers According to OSHA, the most likely places where under-recorded injuries and illnesses may exist would be low-rate establishments operating in historically high-rate industries.
The NEP inspections will be limited to establishments with 40 or more employees in high-rate industries that have reported a Days Away, Restricted, or Transferred (DART) rate from 0.0 to 4.20 in 2007. The NEP inspections will target low-rate establishments in the following high-rate industries:
- Animal (except poultry) slaughtering;
- Bottled water manufacturing;
- Concrete pipe manufacturing;
- Copper foundries (except die-casting);
- Fluid milk manufacturing;
- Iron foundries;
- Manufactured home (mobile home) manufacturing;
- Marine cargo handling;
- Motor vehicle seating and interior trim manufacturing;
- Nursing care facilities;
- Other nonferrous foundries (except die-casting);
- Pet and pet supplies stores;
- Poultry processing;
- Refrigerated warehouse and storage;
- Rolling mill machinery and equipment manufacturing;
- Scheduled passenger air transportation;
- Seafood canning;
- Soft drink manufacturing;
- Steel foundries (except investment); and
- Support activities for animal production.
OSHA also identified the construction industry as a high-rate industry and will pilot test the NEP inspections in no more than five establishments in the construction industry. Public sector employers and approved participants in OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program or Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Programs will not be included in the NEP inspections.
The Office of Statistical Analysis selects establishments to be inspected and provides each OSHA Area Office with a list of establishments within their area to be inspected. Establishments selected for an inspection can expect the following:
At the opening conference the Compliance Safety and Health Officer (CSHO) will provide a letter explaining the purpose, scope, and process for the records inspection. The CSHO will also provide copies of a Medical Access Order to review medical information with personal identifiers, inform the employer about the Agency’s citation policy, and verify from the employer what actions are taken when an employee experiences an injury or illness.
The CSHO will request a copy of a complete roster of all employees who worked at the establishment during 2007 and 2008 and use that roster to select employees whose records will be reviewed. The CSHO will review medical records, workers’ compensation records, insurance records, payroll absentee records, company safety incident reports, first-aid logs, alternate duty rosters, disciplinary records pertaining to injuries and illnesses, and OSHA Form 301 records for the selected employees. If an employer utilizes an off-site clinic for medical services, the CSHO will visit the clinic to review any medical records pertaining to the sampled employees.
The CSHO will interview a sub-sample of employees selected from the list of employees selected for the records inspection. The interviews will focus on employees likely to be injured or become ill.
The CSHO will also interview the designated record keeper regarding the manner in which injuries and illnesses are recorded at the establishment. The purpose of this interview is to assess the record keeper’s knowledge of OSHA recordkeeping requirements and to determine whether recordkeeping problems exist.
Finally, the CSHO will interview management representatives regarding the manner in which injuries and illnesses are recorded at the establishment and to determine the existence of incentive or disciplinary programs that may influence recordkeeping. The interview will also try to determine whether management may influence medical treatment of injured or ill employees.
Walk Around Inspection
The CSHO will conduct a limited walk around inspection of the main plant operations areas looking for consistency with recorded injuries and illnesses, but will address any violations observed in plain view.
Closing Conference and Citations
At the conclusion of the inspection, the CSHO will conduct a closing conference with the employer. The CSHO will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the employer’s recordkeeping program, and describe any recordkeeping deficiencies and violations found during the inspection. If record keeping violations are identified during the inspection process, the CSHO may propose appropriate citations and penalties.
Employers in high-rate industries should assess their system for reporting injuries and illnesses and the training level of their record keepers. Employers also should review the accuracy of their OSHA logs and supporting documentation.
To learn more about how this program may affect your company or if you have any questions regarding these issues, be sure to contact your employment and/or environmental counsel at Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP.