In this three-part series, an OSHA attorney has been discussing Enforcement Units (EUs) and the Enforcement Weighting System (EWS) utilized by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to grade inspections.
In part one, we discussed the importance of contractors being prepared for their OSHA inspections while considering some of the flaws inherent to the old weighted system. As we discussed, this unbalanced system created inconsistencies in inspections which negatively affected contractors and inspectors alike. Then, in part two, we answered an important and often overlooked question: can OSHA issue a citation without an applicable standard? Additionally, we detailed the benefits of the EWS.
Contractors should be fully aware of OSHA’s inspection process and be proactive when dealing with any hazards that arise during the project timeline. If you are issued an OSHA citation, you can defend yourself by partnering with an OSHA defense lawyer from Cotney Construction Law.
Values of Enforcement Units
EWS assigns a value known as an EU to grade different categories of inspections and investigations. Generally, all inspections are assigned a value of at least one, except when considering those inspections that are deemed to be more (or less) complex and resource-intensive in nature. Some examples of these inspection categories include:
Process Safety Management Inspections: 7 EUs
- Combustible Dust Inspections: 2 EUs
- Ergonomic Hazard Inspections: 5 EUs
- Heat Hazard Inspections: 4 EUs
- Non-PEL Exposure Hazard Inspections: 3 EUs
- Workplace Violence Hazard Inspections: 3 EUs
- Fatality or Catastrophe Inspections: 3 EUs
- Significant Cases: 8 EUs
- Informal Complaint Investigations: 1/9 EU
- Rapid Response Investigations: 1/9 EU
Applying Enforcement Units to the Enforcement Weighting System
The implementation of the Enforcement Weighting System and the use of EUs was largely a response to objectives first introduced in one of OSHA’s strategic plans that aimed to “secure safe and healthy workplaces” and “protect workers’ rights.” However, the most important product of these new systems is their ability to assist with future planning for complex project inspections including a more tactical use of resources and a renewed emphasis on enforcement activity that is both educational, impactful, and comprehensive.
EU values are calculated according to the EWS after being reported through the OSHA Information System (OIS). This information is then shared into a database from which important trends and statistics can be gathered to inform OSHA about the best processes for inspections moving forward.
The EWS helps encourage inspectors and contractors to perform their duties to the best of their abilities. Regardless, there’s always a chance that you can be mistakenly issued an OSHA citation. When this occurs, consult an OSHA defense lawyer.
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.