The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has announced yet another policy change that should please most employers. OSHA will no longer automatically inspect a company accused of violating safety or health codes. Instead, OSHA will limit its inspections to companies that are accused of "violations which pose physical harm or imminent danger" to employes.
OSHA field offices will make the determination as to which complaints are minor and which are serious. Minor complaints will be resolved by registered letter, OSHA Administrator Thorne Auchter said. The agency will spot-check about 10 percent of the companies that receive letters to make sure they have corrected infractions.
About 10 to 15 percent of the 50,000 inspections OSHA conducted last year were based on complaints. Auchter claimed the old system, which required OSHA to physically inspect every company that was accused of violations, caused a huge backlog of cases. That backlog, he added, often delayed investigations of serious violations. OSHA now has 1,200 inspectors, who are responsible for 3 million companies.
OSHA also said it will no longer inspect an entire company during its investigations; if the company has a good safety record, the agency will only inspect the area where the complaint originated. Investigators also will be given more time to respond to complaints--from three to five days for charges of serious violations and from 20 to 30 days for other violations.
Murray Seeger, a spokesman for the AFL-CIO, said, "Fewer inspections means more danger on the job."