The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports the following activity in fiscal year 2019:
- Performed 33,401 inspections — more than were done in the previous three years – addressing violations related to trenching, falls, and exposure to chemicals, silica and other hazards.
- Provided a record 1,392,611 workers with training on safety and health requirements through its Training Institute Education Centers, Outreach Training Program and Susan Harwood Training Grant Program.
- Identified 137,885 workplace hazards to help reduce exposure risk for an estimated 3.2 million workers through its free On-Site Consultation Program.
The top 10 most frequently cited violations in FY 2019 were: fall protection, hazard communication, scaffolding, lockout/tagout, respiratory protection, ladders, powered industrial trucks, fall protection (training), machine guarding, and eye and face protection. In the top two categories there were 6,010 fall protection violations in FY 2019, compared to 7,270 in FY 2018, 6,072 in FY 2017 and 6,906 in FY 2016. For hazard communication, there were 3,671 violations in FY 2019, 4,552 in FY 2018, 4,176 in FY 2017 and 5,665 in FY 2016. OSHA publishes citations and related penalties on its enforcement page.
Effective Oct. 1, 2019, the agency implemented a new inspection weighting system to encourage “appropriate allocation of resources.” OSHA weights certain inspections based on the time it takes to complete an inspection or, in some cases, the impact of the inspection on workplace safety and health. The revised system takes into account additional influencing factors such as types of hazards inspected and abated, site-specific targeting and agency priorities.
What to Expect in 2020
According to OSHA’s Fall 2019 Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions for this year, the agency plans to:
- Initiate a Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act panel to review ways to address workplace violence in health care and social services industries. The House recently passed HR. 1309, which would require OSHA to develop a related standard. However, the legislation is not expected to be approved by the Senate and signed into law by the Trump administration.
- Begin analyzing comments on proposed revisions to its lockout/tagout and powered industrial truck regulations, which need updating to reflect technological advances and current consensus standards.
- Issue a notice of proposed rulemaking on walking-working surfaces to clarify stair rail system requirements.
- Release a proposed rule amending the Cranes and Derricks in Construction Standard.
The unified agenda also includes proposed rules for communication tower safety, welding in construction confined spaces, occupational exposure to beryllium and beryllium compounds in construction and shipyard sectors, and updates to the Hazard Communication Standard.