The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has increased its outreach programs to help reduce worker fatalities. The efforts come after a devastating couple of years of increased worker fatalities and injuries, including mining fatalities and deaths in the offshore drilling industry. However, a recent report by the Government Accountability Office calls on OSHA to improve its audits of state-run safety programs to determine their effectiveness and detect deficiencies.
The GAO said that OSHA’s lack of consistent guidance for the audits may allow deficiencies to go undetected, raising the risk of worker injuries, occupational illnesses and even fatalities.
OSHA has increased efforts to protect workers, especially after several worker deaths were reported in Nevada. However, the GAO found that there is no way to know which strategies are most beneficial to workers.
The GAO also found that OSHA officials tend to review federal enforcement activities much more often than they review state-run activities.
The GAO wants that situation to change. It specifically wants OSHA to modify the ways it measures the success of its outreach and safety programs. It wants OSHA to focus on outcomes of its programs rather than on metrics, like the average number of violations per inspection.
The report also suggests that OSHA standardize the guidance given to states for audit practices and include outcomes in its future assessment strategies.
Michael Parsons is an Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyer, representing injured workers in the metro Atlanta region and helping them recover the workers’ compensation benefits that they deserve.