The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) utilizes Compliance Safety and Health Officers (CSHOs) to perform workplace inspections thus ensuring that employers are following all OSHA rules and regulations governing workplace safety.
OSHA inspections are especially prevalent in the construction industry where workers are at a higher risk of being injured. As a response, OSHA continues to expand regulations to combat what they deem the “Fatal Four” — falls, struck by object, electrocutions, and caught-in/between. One important aspect of maintaining safe project sites is establishing a widely accepted system for grading inspections, which OSHA has done in the form of Enforcement Units (EUs) and the Enforcement Weighting System (EWS).
In this three-part series, our OSHA defense attorneys will explain OSHA’s Enforcement Weighting Systems and breakdown how this system improves on outdated systems that used to unjustly penalize contractors working on complex projects.
The Importance of Being Prepared for OSHA Inspections
Having an inspector visit your project site can seem like a burden, but the truth is that inspectors are simply agents whose goal is to minimize the frequency of injuries, illnesses, and deaths in the construction industry. If project sites were to eliminate the Fatal Four entirely, it would save the lives of 582 workers in America annually. Despite being a relatively small federal agency, OSHA’s state partners have grown their workforce to accommodate over two-thousand inspectors. In other words, there’s no escaping from OSHA. Compliance is the best way to ensure that you keep your workers safe, finish projects on time, and save money. However, if you are issued an OSHA citation, an OSHA defense attorney can represent you and appeal the citation.
The Flaws of OSHA’s Old System
Before the advent of the EWS, OSHA weighted all inspections equally. This one-size-fits-all approach didn’t work to the benefit of contractors or inspectors because there was no way to distinguish between an inspection that could take months, such as a process safety management (PSM) inspection of an oil refinery, and less complex inspections like a small commercial construction site. As a result, whenever a CSHO took on a more complex inspection they were forced to shoulder a substantial burden without any incentive which often leads to them withholding the necessary resources to perform the inspection satisfactorily. Fortunately, this flawed system was replaced with a new one that we will discuss in parts two and three.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.