OSHA to Continue Targeted Inspections of Federal Agency Sites

OSHA issued a directive announcing the continuation of its federal agency targeting inspection program for 2010 and outlining how the initiative works. The OSHA-wide/nationwide program, which emphasizes workplace safety and health for federal workers and contractors supervised by federal personnel, focuses on the most dangerous federal agency workplaces that experienced high numbers of lost-time injuries during fiscal year 2009.

During FY 2009, field inspectors conducted 59 inspections of high-hazard federal worksites and found 336 violations of OSHA safety and health standards. The top three standards cited were electrical, respiratory protection, and hazard communications. The 336 violations cited were more than twice the number cited in 2008, indicating the necessity for the federal targeting program, OSHA said.

"The right to safe and healthful working conditions is not limited to private industry workers," said OSHA chief David Michaels. "Workplace safety also extends to those working for the federal government. Continuing the targeting of federal workplaces assures consistent workplace safety standards in federal and private sectors."

The federal agency targeting inspection program began in 2008 in response to a Government Accountability Office audit report that recommended the agency develop a targeted inspection program for federal worksites.

Only establishments that received a comprehensive safety inspection within the previous 24 months prior to the creation of the current inspection cycle will be deleted from the inspection list. However, if the establishment is an approved participant in OSHA's Voluntary Protection Programs, it is to be deleted from the inspection list. Likewise, if an establishment is participating in an OSHA strategic partnership, it may be deleted from the inspection list if it meets the proper terms. The OSHA area director, with the approval of the regional administrator, may extend the deletion of an establishment from the inspection list for another year if the partner continues to meet the conditions of the partnership agreement and demonstrates improved performance in areas measured by the partnership.

OSHA said inspections conducted under the federal agency targeting inspection program will be comprehensive safety inspections. Health inspections (comprehensive or partial) will be limited to compliance officer referrals and area director discretion based on industry experience or the history of the individual establishment. Ergonomic hazards will be addressed in consultation with the Regional ergonomics coordinator.

Where the compliance officer observes contractors performing other work, such as construction or maintenance activity that is not being supervised by the site's federal agency, the officer may open another inspection if he/she observes hazards. The inspection will be expanded to include resident contractors providing services such as security, food service, or housekeeping only when the officer observes obvious hazards that need to be addressed.

If an employer is unable to produce copies of the OSHA Federal Agency Log or an OSHA injury and illness log used under the recordkeeping system in effect prior to January 1, 2005, the employer may be cited under 29 CFR 1960.69 for failure to retain required records.

In general, a compliance safety and health officer is not required to obtain a security clearance prior to entering a federal agency to conduct an inspection under this program. However, given the security concerns of some federal departments, the officer may be required to obtain a specific security clearance(s) for the federal agency being inspected. This requirement may necessitate special planning by the area office and, in some cases, may delay the opening of the inspection.

OSHA's area offices will continue to conduct other programmed inspections under the National Emphasis Program or the Local Emphasis Program initiatives, as the area office and regional goals dictate.

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