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OSHA Announces Stepped-Up Enforcement For Bad Actors

James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent

Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao has announced a new initiative to have the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) zero in on employers who continually expose their workers to "serious" safety and health hazards. She says such offenders will be subject to "enhanced enforcement policies" on the part of OSHA.

In making the announcement, Chao said "The majority of employers in our country consider health and safety of their workers a priority and strive to do their utmost to ensure their well being, but there still are those who continually disregard their very basic obligations under the Occupational Safety and Health Act." OSHA will focus on companies that have received "high gravity" citations, and the agency will take steps to ensure that remedial actions are taken. These will include more follow-up inspections, programmed inspections based on the agency's Site Specific Targeting Process, new procedures for settlements and publicity about companies that are not in compliance.

In connection with the new policy, OSHA has sent letters to some 14,000 workplaces that have had the highest incidents of occupational safety and health problems. Those companies that have received notices have had six or more lost time injuries per 100 workers. The national average is 2.8 injuries per 100 workers. An alphabetical listing by states is available on the OSHA website http://www.osha.gov/as/opa/foia/hot 9.html.

March 2003