Meanwhile, Aucher said recent inspection data show his agency has become more efficient. Based on inspection reports from the first half of fiscal 1982, Auchter said OSHA will conduct about 56,000 safety inspections this year, compared with 57,000 last fiscal year. Earlier, Auchter had predicted OSHA would conduct only 52,000 inspections, which alarmed labor groups.

Auchter said his policy of "inspection targeting" had made it possible for investigators to concentrate on problem industries, rather than "Mom-and-Pop grocery stores." Out of 28,097 inspections conducted during the six months, 22,406 were at high-hazard work places, he said. Last year, there were 28,960 inspections but only 16,791 at work places considered to be very hazardous.

Another major change, Auchter said, is a reduction in follow-up inspections from 3,554 last year to 871 for the first six months of this year (1,742 for the year if the rate continues). Auchter said the follow-up visits rarely turned up violations and were time-consuming.

Before he took over, 22 percent of OSHA's citations were contested by employers, Auchter said, but now only 7 percent are contested. That's a sign, he said, that OSHA's image has improved. The news release did not mention, however, that the number of citations issued by inspectors also has decreased--from 22,447 for the first six months last year to 18,561 for the same period this year, according to OSHA records.