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I.._.” I_.-...-..-_- ---.__-._________ NOVV~~~I twr I !w) OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY & HEALTH Inspectors’ Opinions on Improving 0SH.A Effectiveness 142643 r . _ ._._._“__.._-. _____.... __..___ ^ . .._.. - ..._..- ---.-- ..__- ___^.___..-_.--.- .--- -------- -____ --- United States GAO General Accounting Office Washington, D.C. 20648 Human Resources Division B-235194 November 14,199O The Honorable Joseph Gaydos Chairman, Subcommittee on Health and Safety Committee on Education and Labor House of Representatives The Honorable Paul Henry Ranking Minority Member Subcommittee on Health and Safety Committee on Education and Labor House of Representatives At your request, to identify ways in which worker safety and health might be improved in this country, we conducted a broad review of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) activities and issued a report.’ This fact sheet supplements the information contained in that report with more detail from a questionnaire that we sent to OSHA inspectors (for convenience, when we refer to compliance officers and supervisors jointly, we call them “inspectors”). We believe the responses provide a valuable perspective concerning the day-to-day operations of the OSHAprogram as it is being enforced. Nevertheless, inspectors pro- vide just one part of the total picture about occupational safety and health in the workplace. Their opinions need to be considered with the views of others-such as employers, workers, and other federal and state OSHAstaff-in formulating any new occupational safety and health strategy.2 In May 1989, we mailed copies of the questionnaire to all field supervi- sors and a randomly selected sample of one-third of the compliance officers. We designed the questionnaire to gather inspector opinions about OSHA’S approach to improving workplace safety and health. The major topics addressed in the survey were (1) enforcement, (2) safety and health standards, (3) education and training, (4) employer involve- ment, and (6) worker involvement. Except for the brief background material presented at the beginning of each section, we report the opinions and experiences of inspectors. On 10ccupatio~kl Safety and Health: Options for Improving Safety and Health in the Workplace (GAO/ HRDQO-t%BR,Aug.24, 1990). 21n21 states and 2 territories, the states have developed and operate their own safety and health programs with OSHA approval. OSHA may fund up to 60 percent of the cost of operating these programs. Inspectors in these states and territories were not sent the questionnaire. Page 1 GAO/IUUMl-9FFi Occupational Safety & Health Improvement B-236194 the basis of answers from the 336 survey respondents, we estimate- with an accuracy of plus or minus 7 percent or less-the opinions of inspectors doing or supervising inspections in fiscal year 1988 (see app. I). The results that we present reflect the combined responses of all inspectors, except for those questions for which we observed significant differences between respondent groups. For example, when compliance officers and supervisors gave very different responses to the same ques- tion, these differences are noted. In addition, we provide some specific examples of statements from survey respondents, which are meant to illustrate typical remarks, not necessarily to reflect the consensus of respondents. In 1970, the Congress enacted the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Background The act has the goal of “assuring, so far as possible, for every working man and woman in the nation safe and healthful working conditions.” The act gives the Department of Labor the responsibility for carrying out most of its provisions. Subsequently, the Secretary of Labor estab- lished OSHAto administer the act. OSHAsets mandatory safety and health standards, rules, and regulations; inspects private sector worksites through its 10 regional and 79 area offices in 29 states, the District of Columbia, and some U.S. territories; and assesses penalties and prescribes abatement duties for employers found violating the standards or failing to meet their “general duty” to provide a safe and healthful workplace. In addition, OSHAprovides occu- pational safety and health education to workers and employers. Inspectors’ Opinions OSHA Enforcement Of the inspectors, about 40 percent think that OSHA'Senforcement pro- gram is effective; 19 percent think that it is ineffective; and 41 percent did not characterize it as either effective or ineffective. The following are four particularly significant findings concerning inspector opinions on enforcement: . About 96 percent of the inspectors think that the inspection force needs to be increased in order for OSHAto carry out its enforcement responsibilities. Page 2 GAO/HID-91.9F’S Occupational Saf’ety & Health Improvement E28mJ4 l About 76 percent of the inspectors think that the civil fines allowed in the act, at the time of our survey, are inadequate to serve as a deterrent to safety and health violations. . About 80 percent of the inspectors think that increased use of criminal sanctions would have a “great” or “very great” effect on reducing violations. . There is a lack of consensus about the effectiveness of OSHA'Spolicies for targeting the most hazardous worksites for safety and health inspections. Safety and Health At the time of survey completion, inspectors identified over 75 safety and health hazards that were unregulated, but should have been. Gener- Standards ally, safety inspectors believe that more safety hazards are specifically covered by standards than health inspectors believe health hazards are. According to the inspectors, health standards are more difficult for employers to understand than safety stand- ards. About half of the health inspectors think that health standards are “difficult” or “very difficult” for employers to understand. To speed the promulgation of standards and to give employers more flexibility in how they correct hazards, OSHAbegan issuing (1) standards that cover multiple hazards (generic standards) and (2) standards that specify the desired outcome, but not the steps that must be taken to reach that outcome (performance-based standards). However, most inspectors do not think that these types of standards can, by them- selves, replace standards that address specific individual substances or specify the way hazards should be avoided. Education and Training Concerning workplace health and safety regulations as well as hazards, Efforts most inspectors reported that lack of knowledge contributes greatly to work-related injuries and illnesses. They think that the amount of employer knowledge is moderate overall, with workers having less knowledge than employers. Inspectors also believe that OSHA’Sefforts to increase knowledge about workplace safety and health are moderately effective for employers and somewhat less effective for workers. Employer and korker Most inspectors think that current levels of employer and worker involvement in safety and health activities are too low. Inspectors think Involvement that employers should be required to develop and implement workplace Page 8 GAO/HlUHl-9FS Occupational Safety % Health Improvement E295194 safety and health programs, thereby improving safety and health in the workplace; in addition, workers should be more involved in the enforce- ment program by more often requesting inspections, accompanying inspectors on inspections, and participating in settlement discussions. Sections 1 through 5 of this fact sheet present the survey results in more detail, organized by the topics covered in the questionnaire: enforce- ment, safety and health standards, education and training, employer involvement in safety and health programs, and worker involvement. Appendix I contains our survey objectives, scope, and methodology, including our questionnaire procedures and sampling methods. Appendix II is a brief profile of the inspectors who responded to our survey. Appendix III presents the actual survey questions and the tally of responses for each. We briefed OSHAofficials on the survey results and obtained their oral Agency Comments comments on the draft report. On the basis of their comments, we made changes to the report as appropriate. In subsequent correspondence (see app. IV), however, the Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health stressed his belief that some of the opinions represented in the report reflect “an institutional state of mind which may have changed over the past year” as a result of “significant changes in OSHA'S operations.” We agree with the Assistant Secretary that OSHAhas made changes that may have affected inspectors’ overall assessment of the program’s effectiveness. For example, OSHAhas increased its inspector work force and appears to be recommending civil and criminal penalties more aggressively. Nevertheless, most of the operations that concerned inspectors remain unchanged, including the following: (1) OSHAis still using the same data for targeting safety and health inspections that inspectors believed to be inadequate; (2) criminal sanctions still can be used only when the employer’s violation of an OSHAregulation results in the death of a worker; (3) in cases of imminent danger, inspectors still cannot shut down an employer’s operations without first obtaining a court order; and (4) safety and health programs are still not required in general industry. In our report, we note the instances where a specific policy or program change took place between the time of our survey and report issuance. Page 4 GAO/HRB91-9FY3 Occupational Saf’ety & Health Improvement B435194 We are sending copies of this report to the Secretary of Labor and other interested parties. Should you have any questions or wish to discuss the information provided, please call me at (202) 2751793. Other major contributors to this fact sheet are listed in appendix IV. L SW Franklin Frazier Director, Education and Employment Issues Page 5 GAO/HRD914WS Occupational Safety % Health Improvement Contints Section 1 10 Enforcement Background 10 Aspects Covered by Questions 10 Enforcement Overview 10 Inspection Targeting 13 Complaints 16 Civil Penalties 18 Criminal Prosecutions 20 Abatement 22 Imminent Danger 23 Section 2 25 Safety and Health Background 25 Aspects Covered by Questions 25 Standards Hazard Coverage 25 Types of Standards 26 Improvements Needed in Standard Setting 28 Section 3 30 Education and Background Aspects Covered by Questions 30 30 Training Knowledge of Workplace Hazards, Legislation, 30 Regulations, and Standards Effect of Lack of Knowledge 34 Perceived Effectiveness of OSHA Education and Training 35 Programs Problems With Education and Training Programs 35 Section 4 37 Employer Involvement Background 37 Aspects Covered by Questions 37 in Safety and Health Effectiveness of Safety and Health Programs 37 Programs Section 5 40 Worker Involvement Background 40 Aspects Covered by Questions 40 Y Level of Involvement 40 Worker Protection Against Employer Discrimination 41 Page 6 GAO/I-JRD-9ldFs Occupational Safety 8 Health Improvement Contents Appendixes Appendix I: Objective, Scope, and Methodology 44 Appendix II: Respondent Profile 47 Appendix III: Summary of Questionnaire Responses 49 Appendix IV: Comments From the Department of Labor 74 Appendix V: Major Contributors to This Fact Sheet 76 - Related GAO Products 80 - Tables Table 1.1: Respondents’ Comments on Best Data for 16 Targeting Safety and Health Inspections Table 1,2: Respondents’ Comments on Information 16 Currently Unavailable That Would Help Locate Sources of Safety and Health Problems During Inspections Table 3.1: Employer and Worker Knowledge of the Act, 31 Regulations, and Standards, by Size of Employer Table 3.2: Contribution of Lack of Knowledge by 34 Employer and Worker to Safety and Health Violations and Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses Table 3.3: Effectiveness of Education and Training 35 Programs Table 5.1: Needed Change to Worker Involvement in 41 OSHA Enforcement Activities Table I. 1: Total Inspectors and Total Sampled by Group 46 Table 1.2: Respondents Doing (or Supervising) Inspections 46 by Sampled Group Table 1.3: Calculation of the Universe to Which 46 Questionnaire Results Can Be Projected: Respondent Universe Doing (or Supervising) Inspections Table II. 1: Total Inspectors and Respondent Universe by 47 Sampled Groups Table 11.2:Comparison of Universe and Respondent 47 Percentages by Federal Region Table 11.3:Highest Education Degree Obtained by 48 Inspectors Table 11.4:Median Length of Service and Time Doing 48 Inspections for Inspectors Who Did (or Supervised) Inspections (Fiscal Year 1988) Figures Figure 1.1: OSHA’s Overall Effectiveness 11 Page 7 GAO/HRD91-9F’S Occupational Safety & He&h Improvement Contents Figure 1.2: Effect of the Possibility of an OSHA Inspection -ii on Employer Safety and Health Activities Figure 1.3: Changes in Number of OSHA Compliance 13 Officers Recommended by Inspectors Figure 1.4: Effectiveness of Inspection Targeting for 14 Safety and Health Inspections Figure 1.6: Appropriateness of Using Letters as a 17 Response to Some Complaints Figure 1.6: Proposed Changes in Maximum Civil Penalties 19 Figure 1.7: Suggested Use of the Instance-by-Instance 20 Approach Figure 1.8: Expected Effect of More Frequent Use of 21 Criminal Sanctions on Reducing Violations Figure 1.Q: Inspectors’ Opinions About Whether They 24 Should Have Shutdown Authority in Cases of Imminent Danger Figure 2.1: Effectiveness of Specification-Based Safety 27 Standards Compared With Performance-Based Standards Figure 2.2: Need for Individual Substance Standards With 28 Generic Health Standards Figure 3.1: Employer and Worker Knowledge of the Act, 31 Regulations, and Standards Figure 3.2: Employer and Worker Knowledge of the Act, 32 Regulations, and Standards in Worksites With or Without a Safety or Health Plan Figure 3.3: Employer and Worker Knowledge of the Act, 33 Regulations, and Standards in Worksites With or Without Worker Representation Figure 3.4: Employer and Worker Knowledge of Safety 34 Versus Health Hazards Figure 4.1: Expected Improvement in Safety and Health 38 in General Industry if Safety and Health Programs Were Required Figure 4.2: Improvement in Safety and Health in 39 Construction Industry as a Result of Requirement for Safety and Health Programs Page 8 GAO/IiRD91-9F‘S Occupational Safety & Health Improvement Continta Abbreviations BIS Bureau of Labor Statistics LWDI lost workday injury OSHAct Occupational Safety and Health Act OSHA Occupational Safety and Health Administration Page 9 GAO/HRD91-9F’S Occupational Safety Br Health Improvement , Section 1 Ehforcement In fiscal year 1989, OSHAdevoted two out of every three program dollars Background to enforcement activities, including doing worksite inspections; citing employers for violations of OSHA regulations and standards; and deter- mining, through follow-up inspections or employer verification, whether employers “abate” (eliminate or lessen) hazardous conditions. At the time of our survey, OSHAemployed about 1,100 inspectors to enforce health and safety standards for over 3.6 million employers in the United States.’ Of the inspection force, compliance officers make up about 86 percent and supervisors, the remaining 14 percent. For the survey questions related to OSHAenforcement activities, we Aspects Covered by focused on seven aspects: overall effectiveness, inspection targeting, Questions complaints, civil penalties, criminal prosecutions, abatement, and immi- nent danger. We compared the inspector responses to these questions by groups: safety officers, health officers, safety supervisors, and health supervisors. Unless noted, the responses made by the individual groups did not differ significantly. The individual comments included in this report are meant to illustrate typical remarks, not necessarily to reflect the general consensus of the respondents. Enforcement Overview Lack of Consensuson About 40 percent of the inspectors indicated that OSHA'Soverall enforce- Effectiveness of OSHA’s ment strategy is effective in ensuring safe and healthful workplaces (see fig. 1.1). A similar percentage of inspectors believe the strategy is effec- Enforcement Program tive in ensuring compliance with safety and health standards. However, another 40 percent of the inspectors did not characterize OSHA'Senforce- ment strategy as either “effective” or “ineffective.“2 Safety supervisors were more supportive of the current enforcement strategy than other respondent groups. Of the safety supervisors, 61 percent believe that ‘State-operated programs have enforcement responsibility for an additional 2.3 million employers with about 34 million workers. 21nspectorsmay be more supportive of OSHA’s enforcement program, aa of October 1990, given OSHA’s more aggressive pursuing of civil and criminal penalties in fiscal year 1990. Page 10 GAO/HRD91-9Fs Occupational safety 8r Health Improvement lhction 1 Enfo~ment the strategy is “effective” or “very effective,” compared with 41 per- cent of the safety officers, 33 percent of the health officers, and 34 per- cent of the health supervisors. Figure 1.1: OSHA’e Overall Effectiveness so Peroelltof Mel raepofleee 40 -I 30 20 10 0 Enaurlng safe and healthful workdt~~ Possibility of Inspection We asked inspectors whether the possibility of an OSHAinspection has any effect on what employers do to ensure safe and healthful work- Has an Effect on What places. Nearly all of them (94 percent) believe that it has some effect; Employers Do about 30 percent believe that the possibility of an inspection has a “great” or “very great” effect on what employers do (see fig. 1.2). Page 11 GAO/HRD-91-9FS Occupational Safety & Health Improvement , Section 1 Enforcement Flgure 1.2: Effect of the Poorlblllty of an OSHA Ifwpectlon on Employer Safety 60 Pamontdtotalmponaoa and Health Actlvltles 40 r Effect on omployrn OSHA Needs More Inspectors believe that the present number of compliance officers (about 800 doing inspections) is not enough to carry out OSHA’Senforcement Compliance Officers responsibilities; 96 percent believe that WXA needs to increase its inspec- tion force (see fig. 1.3)s Some inspectors commented that they are able to do few inspections other than complaint inspections. 3Specifically, 60 percent think that OSHA should “greatly increase” the current number of compli- ance officers; 36 percent think that OSHA should “increase” the number of compliance officers. In fiscal year IQQO,OSHA increased its inspection force by 189 compliance officers over the level at the time of our questionnaire survey. Page 12 GAO/HRD91-9P3 Occupational Safety & Health Improvement section 1 Enforcement Figure 1.3: Change6 in Number of OSHA Compllsnce Officers Recommended by Pueenl of tad mponrs tnspectors 100 Recommended change One-Fourth of the Unannounced workplace inspections are a key component of an effec- Inspectors Believe That tive enforcement strategy. The act stresses the importance of this com- ponent by providing criminal penalties for anyone who gives advance Employers Get Advance notice of an inspection. Still, about one-fourth of the inspectors believe Notice of Inspections employers sometimes know beforehand about targeted inspections. Since OSHAis unable to inspect every workplace, the agency sets priori- Inspection Targeting ties for inspections. OSHAuses several data bases to identify high hazard industries. For manufacturing industries, OSHA obtains data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics about industries with above-average lost workday injury (LWDI) rates,4 providing area offices with a list of work- sites in these industries. For the construction industry, OSHAobtains a listing of local construction sites. For health, OSHAuses its inspection data to identify industries with a substantial number of past serious health violations. 4LWDI is a workplace injury or illness resulting in an employee’s beii absent from work, assigned to restricted work activity, or both for 1 or more days. Page 13 GAO/HI&D-91-9FS Occupational Safety fh Health Improvement I Section 1 Enforcement We asked inspectors about OSHA’Ssafety and health targeting policies and the data needed to identify hazardous worksites. Lack of Consensuson A little over one-third of the inspectors did not characterize policies for targeting the most hazardous worksites for health and safety inspec- Effectiveness of OSHA’s tions as either “effective” or “ineffective” (see fig. 1.4). However, 34 Targeting Policies percent of the inspectors think that safety targeting policies are effec- tive, compared with 24 percent who think that health targeting policies are effectiveS Flgure 1.4: Effectbmers of lnepectlon Targeting for Safety and Health lnrpectionr 50 Perant of wal raponer 40 Efhotlvonm of trrgotlng I Safety lnspedons Health Inspections 6We summarized only safety inspector comments about safety targeting and only health inspector comments about health targeting. Page 14 GAO/HlUMU-QFS Occupational safety & Health Imprwement Section 1 Enforcement About half of the respondents (170) provided written comments con- cerning OSHA’Stargeting system.6 Most frequently, respondent comments were like these: l 06~~does few programmed inspections because resources are inade- quate to do both programmed inspections and complaint inspections (37 respondents). l OSHA’S inspection targeting procedures result in the same companies being inspected year after year. Some inspectors expressed their con- cern that hazardous worksites were not being inspected because they were (1) too far down on the inspection list or (2) not on the list at all (25 respondents).7 . OSHA’S method for targeting construction sites for inspection could be improved. In December 1988, OSHA contracted with the University of Tennessee to provide computer-generated inspection lists to the area offices. Some of the inspectors think that these lists often provide sites that are inactive and leave out others (23 respondents). Information Needed to We asked safety and health inspectors two questions: (1) What informa- tion best identifies the worksites that should be inspected? (2) What Target Enforcement data are currently unavailable, but would help locate the sources of problems at a worksite? Of the 241 inspectors who responded, only about 20 percent identified the data currently used by OSHA to target inspections in their specialty (safety or health) as the best data to use. Respondents identified data about an individual company’s injuries, ill- nesses, worksite processes, and chemical use as better data to target inspections (see table 1.1). gWe use the term “respondent” to refer to comments made by the specific inspectors who responded to our questionnaire. In contrast, we use the term “inspector” when we estimate the opinions of all inspectors. (See app. I.> ‘In July 1989, OSHA changed its targeting procedures in ways that reduce the likelihood of work- sites’ being inspected year after year. However, worksites that are not in a high-hazard industry are rarely inspected, unless OSHA receives a complaint. Page 16 GAO/HRD-Ql-QFS Occupational Safety 8~ Hedth Improvement &ctlon 1 Enforcement Table 1.1: Respondents’ Comment8 on Bert Data for Targeting Safety and Safety Respondents Health inspections Individual company’s injuries, including their severity 51 k%zy used by OSHA 41 Workers’ compensation claims or insurance claims 23 Company’s or industry’s manufacturing processes and working conditions ~--__ 22 Health Company’s or industry’s processes and chemical use 42 Data currently used by OSHA 9 Information from workers or their representatives 9 Workers’ compensation claims or insurance claims 7 Note: Comments about safety data were made by safety inspectors. Similarly, health comments were made by health inspectors. Of the data currently unavailable to them, respondents most often cited workers’ compensation and insurance claims as information that would be helpful in locating sources of safety and health problems during inspections (see table 1.2). Table I .2: Respondents’ Comments on information Currently Unavailable That Safety Respondents Would Help Locate Sources of Safety Workers’ compensation and insurance claims 25 and Health Problems During inspection8 More information from workers and their reoresentatives 15 Health Eompany’s or industry’s processes or chemical use 21 Training and resource materials, such as technical manuals 14 Workers’ combensation and insurance claims 12 Referrals from the medical community 6 Note: Comments about safety data were made by safety inspectors. Similarly, health comments were made by health inspectors. Unless a complaint alleges an imminent danger of serious physical harm Complaints or death, OSHA'Spolicy requires an inspection only if the complaint meets all of the following criteria: (1) written, (2) signed by a current employee or employee representative, and (3) describes the condition, practice, or particular violation that is hazardous. If a complaint meets all three criteria, OSHAconducts an inspection. If one or more of the cri- teria are unmet and imminent danger is not alleged, OSHAhandles a com- plaint about safety or health hazards by sending a letter to the employer asking for information about the alleged hazard. Page 10 GAO/HRDQl-QFY3 Occupational Safety & Health Improvement Section 1 Enforcement Policy of Responding to Of the inspectors, 63 percent agreed with OSHA’S policy of responding to SomeComplaints With a some complaints with a letter instead of an inspection (see fig. 1.6).8 Supervisors favor the policy more than compliance officers; health Letter Is Appropriate inspectors, more than safety inspectors.@Comments from some health supervisors show that they need to stretch limited staff resources; this policy helps them to do so. Figure 1.5: Appropriateness of Ublng Letters as a Response to Some 70 Poroentof total responeu Complaints Level of approprlatonosa Of the inspectors, 37 percent disagreed with the criteria that OSHA uses to decide which complaints will receive a letter instead of an inspection. Of those respondents who disagreed, 72 percent (89) believe that the local area office should be given more discretion in deciding how to respond to complaints. For example, OSHA could inspect all alleged *Of the inspectors, 22 percent think that it is “very appropriate;” 41 percent think that it is “appropriate.” OOfall supervisors, 80 percent believe the policy is “appropriate” or “very appropriate,” versus 60 percent of all compliance officers. Of the health inspectcws,70 percent believe that the policy is “appropriate” or “very appropriate,” versus 68 percent of the safety inspectors. Page 17 GAO/HRD-9lBFs Occupational Safety 4%Health Improvement sectlon 1 Enforcement serious violations, not just those involving imminent danger, whether or not they are written and signed. Inspectors cite violations in various categories: serious, willful, repeat, Civil Penalties and other than serious10 At the time of our survey, penalties for viola- tions were up to $1,000 for each serious violation and up to $10,000 for a willful or repeat violation. In addition, a fine of up to $1,000 could be assessed for each day during which an employer fails to abate a hazard after the agreed-on date has passed. OSHA does not have to assess a pen- alty for an “other-than-serious” violation. Proposed penalties may be adjusted on the basis of size of business, good faith of the employer, and employer’s previous history of violations. On October 26, 1996, the Congress passed the Omnibus Budget Reconcil- iation Act of 199@which substantially increased maximum civil penal- ties. The maximum civil penalty for a willful violation was raised to $70,000 for each violation. All other types of penalties were raised to a maximum of $7,000 for each violation. Allowable Monetary About three-fourths of the inspectors believe that allowable civil penal- Penalties Should Be ties should be increased (see fig. 1.6); many of these inspectors believe that allowable penalties should be greatly increased to encourage Greatly Increased employers to comply. For example, over half of the inspectors believe the maximum penalty for a willful violation should be at least $26,000. %erious violation: Violation that included a substantial probability that death or serious physical hanncouldWillfu1 violation: Violation that the employer intentionally and knowingly com- of any standard, regulation, rule, or order for which, on reinspection, is found. Other than serious: Violation that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably could not result in death or serious physical harm. Page 18 GAO/HRD-91-9FS Occupational Safety & Health Improvement Section 1 Enforcement Flgure 1.8: Propored Changes in Maximum Civil Penalties 100 Pot-cd ot total rwponur 50 40 so Change In maximum penalty Instance-by-Instance OSHA sometimes imposes substantially higher penalties by citing Citations Should Be 1Tsed employers on an “instance-by-instance” basis. With this approach, OSHA cites employers who “egregiously” violate OSHA standards for every More Often instance of a standard violation, rather than citing only one penalty for a certain type of violation.11 Under this policy, the total assessed fine for a violation can be substantially larger than the maximum “per instance” fine of $10,000. However, OSHA has used this approach sparingly- about 100 times between April 1986 and July 1990. Inspectors generally favor OSHA’S policy of citing each instance of a vio- lation separately, instead of combining instances under one violation; 6 1 percent believe that the instance-by-instance approach should be used more oft,en (see fig. 1.7). One of the reasons inspectors favor greater use of the policy may be its effect on employers, other than the employer cited: 46 percent of the inspectors believe that the instance-by-instance approach has had a “great” or “very great effect” on other employers’ compliance with OSHA requirements. “OSHA began using the instance-by-instance approach in 1986, Since that time, OSHA has proposed penalties ranging from $126,000 to $7.6 million. Page 19 GAO/HItD91-9F’S Occupational Safety & Health Improvement Section 1 Enforcement Figure 1.I: Suggested Use of the Instance-by-lnrtance Approach 70 Fafomtottotatmpon8# 50 50 r 40 30 20 10 0 -h L L Mom same Lea. 8ugpmtut use Civil Penalties Other Than In addition to the fines OSHAnow levies, some inspectors suggested other Fines Could Be Used penalties, including the following: l give OSHAauthority to shut down operations if an inspector finds a serious violation, even when the violation does not pose an imminent danger, until the employer abates the violation (29 comments); . revoke or refuse government contracts and other government moneys for chronic violators (2 1 comments); . make inspection results public (9 comments); l require mandatory training for managers or workers (9 comments); and . remove protection against employee lawsuits or increase employer lia- bility through workers’ compensation or Social Security (8 comments). Besides civil penalties, employers may be subject to criminal prosecution Criminal Prosecutions in certain cases. Criminal sanctions may be applied to an employer who willfully violates OSHAregulations and the violation results in the death of a worker, anyone who knowingly provides false information to OSHA, Y and anyone who gives advance notice of an inspection. The maximum criminal penalty is $10,000 or imprisonment for 6 months or both. But Page 20 GAO/HRD2143Fs Occupational Safety 8 Health Improvement Section 1 Enionzement for giving notice of an inspection, there is a maximum penalty of $1,000 or imprisonment for 6 months or both. Greater Use of Criminal About 80 percent of the inspectors believe that greater use of criminal Sanctions Would Greatly sanctions for safety and health violations would greatly reduce viola- tions (see fig. 1.8). Moreover, the inspectors believe the effect would ReduceViolations take place if any level of government (federal, state, or local) used these sanctions. Figure 1.8: Expected Effect of More Frequent Use of Crlmlnal Sanctions on 50 Percent of tha responsoa Reducing Violation8 Expectad affect Legislative and Respondents provided many comments about legislative and administra- Administrative Changes tive changes that they think would allow the federal government to use criminal sanctions effectively. Of the 194 respondents who commented, Recommendedfor Criminal 66 think that OSHAshould apply criminal sanctions in more cases. These Penalties inspectors would like to see criminal penalties for violations that Y Page 2 1 GAO/HRD91-9FY3 Ckcupational Safety 8t Health Improvement Section1 IWorcetnent (1) lead to serious but nonfatal injuries to employees, (2) are willful or repeat violations, or (3) both.12 Of the respondents, 60 think that OSHA,the Department of Labor, or the Department of Justice, or all of them are too reluctant to pursue crim- inal cases. The criteria for when a prosecution should be pursued, respondents commented, are not clearly defined, which makes it diffi- cult for them to decide when they should refer a case for criminal prose- cution; in addition, some respondents said, the inspection process is not designed to gather the necessary evidence to pursue criminal cases. Thus, preparing a case for criminal prosecution is difficult and time- consuming. OSHAarea directors are responsible for determining if employers have Abatement abated violations. These directors verify abatement either by a follow- up inspection or through a letter from the employer stating that the cited conditions have been corrected. This letter is supposed to explain the specific corrective actions taken for each violation and the approxi- mate date for each action. Failure to submit a verification letter by the deadline set for abatement may trigger a follow-up inspection. In addi- tion, follow-up inspections are required for certain violations. Of the inspections that OSHAdid in fiscal year 1989,6 percent (3,284) were follow-up inspections. Seventy percent of the respondents (237) provided comments about changes needed to improve OSHA’Sabatement confirmation procedures. By far, the major change recommended (176 comments) was for DSHAto do more follow-up inspections. Inspector comments about the need for follow-up inspections included these: “A number of follow-up inspections were programmed during FY’ 88 when abate- ment was apparently achieved, as indicated by telephone calls or letters. Most of these inspections uncovered failure to abate situations.” “Visiting a site to determine abatement shows employer/employee that OSHAis truly concern[ed] about conditions rather than what may appear in letter form.” “During FY ‘88, virtually 100%of the follow-up inspections I scheduled resulted in failure to abate penalties.” [The employer had not corrected the hazards.] lzTheactprovide criminalsanctions for violationsonly when they lead to fatalities. Page 22 GAO/HID-91.BFf4 Occupational Safety 8 Health Improvement Section 1 Enforcement Imminent danger is defined in the legislation as “any conditions or prac- Imminent Danger tices in any place of employment which are such that a danger exists which could reasonably be expected to cause death or serious physical harm immediately or before the immine&e of such danger can be elimi- nated through the enforcement procedures otherwise provided.” OSHA gives the highest inspection priority to allegations of imminent dangers and tries to schedule inspections of them for the same day that it receives the report. When it is not possible to schedule the inspection for the same day, OSHAschedules the inspection for the employer’s next working day. The act restricts OSHA’Sability to obtain immediate abatement of immi- nent dangers by requiring OSHAto first obtain a court order. Under OSHA procedures, OSHArequests that the employer abate the danger. If the employer does not provide reasonable assurance that he or she has abated the danger, the inspector consults with the area director, who then decides whether to contact the regional solicitor about initiating court action. The inspector posts a Notice of Alleged Imminent Danger after he or she receives approval from the area director. The notice is not a citation, but only a notice that (1) OSHAbelieves that an imminent danger exists and (2) the Secretary of Labor will be seeking a court order to restrain the employer from permitting employees to work in the vicinity of the danger. If a court issues an injunction in an imminent danger case, 06~~ does a follow-up inspection to see if the employer is complying with the terms of the court order. Inspectors do not have the authority to order shut- down of the operation or to direct employees to leave the vicinity of the imminent danger. Inspectors Want Authority Of the inspectors, 63 percent strongly believe that they should be to Immediately Remedy allowed to shut down operations in cases of imminent danger without having to obtain a court order first (see fig, 1.9). Some inspector com- Casesof Imminent Danger ments reflected a belief that the process of obtaining a court order in an imminent danger case is very slow and does not provide an effective remedy for exposed workers, for example: “It is important that the [inspector] have the authority to stop work in an imminent danger situation. The time required to get a court order exposesemployees to the hazards for extended periods of time, which is unacceptable. In that, someonemay die or be exposed to level of materials which may cause long term damage.” Page 22 GAO/IiIUMl-OF’S Occupational dbiety 8 Health Improvement sect10n1 Eniorcement Figure 1.9: In8pectors’ Opinions About Whether They Should Have Shutdown Authority in Cases of Imminent Danger 70 Poreonloftom roaponua d 4 1$ Lwol ol rgroomont We estimate that compliance officers found about 2,130 instances where they believe it was necessary to remove workers because of imminent danger cases in fiscal year 1988.13Of these compliance officers, we esti- mate that 10 percent believe workers were, on average, exposed to imminent danger for over 8 hours. Generally, inspectors believe they are adequately prepared to identify cases of imminent danger. Still, about one-fourth believe they were inadequately prepared by OSHA(Training Institute or field training) to identify such cases. 13This is an estimate-based on the reports of compliance officers we surveyed-of the imminent danger cases found by all OSHA compliance officers doing inspections. The sampling error of this estimate is plus or minus 976. Page24 GAO/HUD91-9FS Occupational Safety % Health Improvement Section 2 Safety and Health Standards Enforcing safety and health standards is a major part of OSHA’S regula- Background tory strategy. However, OSHAstandards fail to cover many safety and health hazards adequately and fail to keep pace with knowledge about new or existing hazards. In cases where a hazard exists and the hazard is not covered by a standard, OSHA can cite the general duty clause. Under this clause, employers have a general duty to provide a work- place that is free from recognized hazards that cause or are likely to cause serious physical harm or death to employees. For the survey questions related to safety and health standards, we Aspects Covered by focused on three aspects: whether hazards are adequately covered by Questions standards; whether standards are difficult for employers to understand; and what types of standards (that is, specific substance, generic, specifi- cation, and performance standards) are more effective. When asked to identify the most important hazards that are not covered HSazardCoverage by specific standards, respondents identified over 75. At least half of the inspectors identified 2 hazards: “lockout or tagout” and “confined space entry.” A lockout or tagout standard would require the employer to establish procedures to prevent anyone from accidently energizing or activating a machine, particularly while it is being serviced. A confined space entry standard would require an effective means of exit from con- fined work spaces.’ Over half of the health inspectors listed repetitive motion hazards as hazards that should be covered by standards. Such standards would include the principle of ergonomic design; that is, the machine should fit the worker, instead of forcing the worker to fit the machine.2 Carpal tunnel syndrome, a progressively disabling and painful condition of the hands, is the most widely recognized example of a repetitive motion trauma resulting from lack of ergonomic design. The syndrome is caused by repeatedly flexing the wrist or applying arm-wrist-finger force. ‘A lockout or tagout standard was issued in September 1989.0!3HA is rewriting a confined space standard and it expects to issue a final rule in February 1991I 2Ergonomics is the science of designing facilities, equipment, tools, and tasks that are compatible with the anatomical, physiological, biomechanical, perceptual, and behavioral characteristics of humans. Page 25 GAO/HRD-Ill-9PS Occupational Safety EhHealth Improvement Section 2 Wety and Health Stan- Use of General Duty Inspectors can cite the general duty clause for hazardous conditions not Clause in Absence of covered by an osn~ standard when four conditions exist: the employer falls to keep the workplace free of a hazard; it is a recognized hazard; Specific Standards the hazard causes or is likely to cause serious physical harm or death; and the hazard is correctable by a “feasible and useful method.” About three-fourths of the inspectors cited the general duty clause at least once in fiscal year 1988. In fact, 18 percent of the safety inspectors and 29 percent of the health inspectors used the general duty clause for at least 10 percent of the hazards that they identified. However, many inspectors (66 percent) noted situations in which they believed a hazard existed, but they could not cite the employer because neither a specific standard nor the general duty clause could be cited. During the 198Os, OSHAbegan using more performance standards. Per- Types of Standards formance standards give employers more flexibility in complying with standards by allowing employers to consider available technologies and to select the most appropriate one. These standards differ from specifi- cation standards, which require employers to meet fixed specifications. For example, a specification standard might specify that a ladder (1) be made from a specific wood, (2) have no more than 12 inches between rungs, and (3) be no more than 24 inches wide; a performance standard might require that the ladder be able to support, for several hours, a person who weighs 280 pounds. Also during the 198Os, in an attempt to speed up the issuance of stand- ards, OSHAbegan using generic standards as well as specific standards. A generic standard may cover (1) multiple problems in a single industry or (2) work practices and procedures affecting many industries. For example, the hazard communication standard is considered to be a generic standard. It requires employers to notify their workers about all chemical hazards and to provide worker training. A generic standard could be either a specification standard or a performance standard, depending on its level of specificity. Inspectors are skeptical of the effectiveness of performance-based standards; 62 percent think that specification-based standards are “more effective” or “much more effective” than performance-based standards (see fig. 2.1). Of the inspectors, 46 percent think that the need for individual substance standards will either “increase” or “greatly increase,” despite the greater use of generic health standards (see fig. 2.2). Page 26 GAO/IUD-Bl-9lW Occupational Safety 8~ Health Improvement Section 2 Safety and Health SM Figure 2.1: EffectIvenear of Specification-Baaed Safety Standard@ Compared With Performance-Bared 110 PUmntottotdmpon# Standard8 40 so r Effrctlvonosa of rpoclflcatlon-bawd l fety standards Page 27 GAO/EIRDSl-@I% Occupntional Safety & Heakh Improvement Section 2 Safety and Health Standarda Flgure 2.2: Need for lndlvldual Subrtance Standards Wlth Qenerlc 60 Psroontof tot81roaponau Health Standards 40 80 r 20 10 0 -I? II A L Much Qrsatr About Loss Much groator tha Ion 8ame Nrd for lndivldual substance standards In addition to the survey questions, 162 respondents (48 percent) pro- Improvements Needed vided a total of 237 narrative comments about safety and health stand- in Standard Setting ards. Many of these comments (3 1 percent) stress the importance of standards in increasing OSHAenforcement power. Other comments, examples of which appear below, fell into three categories: improve the standard-setting process (64 comments); make standards simpler to understand and enforce (67 comments); and revise and update stan- dards (42 comments). Improve Process “Promulgation [standard setting] must be based upon safety and health issues rather than economic feasibility.” “Updated standards by. , , recognized organizations should be automatically incor- porated by reference into OSHAstandards.” Page 20 GAO/HRD-91-W’S Occupational Safety fb Health Improvement section 2 Safety and Health Standarda Simplify Standards “Standards leave too much for interpretation. Too many employers, employees and compliance personnel are left guessing as to what they judge to be, or assumeto be, correct and complying with the standard.” “Standards should not be issued unless there is a compliance directive attached to address enforcement policy.” Revise Standards “Standards need to be updated to keep up with current industry standards . . . . Need to revise health standards more frequently (more than once in 18 years).” “There should be a program to regularly review them [standards] and update them.” Page 29 GAO/HRDBl-BFS Occupational Safety & Hea.lth Improvement Section 3 l3ducation and Training In fiscal year 1989, OSHA spent about $30.9 million (12 percent of its Background total budget) on directly funded education and training activities. OSHA’S education and training programs include the Employer Consultation Program, the OSHA Training Institute, and the New Directions grant pro- gram. The Employer Consultation Program, which receives the bulk of OSHA’S education and training funds, provides workplace consultation visits at the request of employers. The OSHA Training Institute mostly provides training to OSHAinspectors, but also allows private sector and other government employees to attend courses related to workplace safety and health. The New Directions program makes grants available to nonprofit labor and employer organizations that wish to provide job safety and health training to their members. In addition to these directly funded activities, OSHA has more than 100 standards and guidelines that mandate or recommend minimum levels of training for particular categories of workers. For the questions related to OSHA education and training activities, we Aspects Covered by focused on three aspects: whether employers and workers are knowl- Questions edgeable about workplace hazards and the legislation, regulations, and standards; whether the lack of knowledge of workers or employers results in injuries and illnesses or violations of OSHA standards; and whether present OSHAprograms are effective in educating and training workers and employers. We asked inspectors about t levels of employer and worker knowledge Knowledge of about (1) health and safety hP ards and (2) the legislation-Occupa- Workplace Hazards, tional Safety and Health Act (OSH Act), regulations, and standards. Legislation, Because of the volume of information that we obtained, we will present inspector opinions of the levels of employer and worker knowledge Regulations, and about the legislation, regulations, and standards, but not about health Standards and safety hazards.’ For ease of presentation, we also generally com- bined responses about the knowledge of employers and workers. Employers More Of all the inspectors, 66 percent think that employers have at least a Knowledgeable Than “moderate” level of knowledge about the legislation, regulations, and standards, whereas only 39 percent of the inspectors think that workers Workers w have the same level of knowledge (see fig. 3.1). ‘Their opinions about knowledge of safety and health hazard showed the same problems. Page 30 GAO/HRD91-9PS Occupational Safety 81Health Improvement Section 8 Education aud Training Figure 3.1: Employer and Worker Knowledge of the Act, Regulations, and Standards 70 Pamanlof total raapona# 00 60 40 30 20 Vary groaf Groat Modrrato Some Lffflo or no Lavol of knowlodge El Employers Workers Level of Knowledge Higher Overall, inspectors think that the levels of employer and worker knowl- in Large BusinessesThan edge of legislation, regulations, and standards are higher for large-sized employers than for small-sized or medium-sized employers.2 Of the in Small Businesses inspectors, 82 percent think that workers and employers of large-sized employers have at least a “moderate” level of knowledge, in contrast to just 67 percent for medium-sized employers and 17 percent for small- sized employers (see table 3.1). Table 3.1: Employer and Worker Knowledge of the Act, Regulations, and Numbers in percentages Standards, by Size of Employer -~- Inspectors’ opinions on knowledge Size of Employer Very Great Great Moderate Some Little or no 99 or fewer workers 0 2 15 43 40 100 to 500 workers 2 14 41 35 7 Over 500 workers 12 32 38 16 2 2We define “large” aa an employer with over 600 workers, “medium” as an employer with 100 to 600 workers, and “small” aa an employer with less than 100 Yorkers. Page 31 G-4O/HRLb91-9Fs Occupational Safety 8 Health Improvement Section a Education and Training Level of Knowledge Higher According to inspectors, the levels of employer and worker knowledge in Worksites With Safety of the legislation, regulations, and standards are higher in worksites with safety and health plans. Of the inspectors, 67 percent think that or Health Plans employers and workers in worksites with safety and health plans have at least a “moderate” level of knowledge of these issues, in contrast to just 16 percent for worksites without safety and health plans (see fig. 3.2). Figure 3.2: Employer and Worker Knowledge of the Act, Regulations, and Poroonf of rooponow for both omploym and worlwa Standards in Workslter With or Without a (lo Safety or Health Plan 40 30 20 0 ‘OLA Very graat Great Moderafe Some Lfttlo or no Level of knowladga I Plan present No plan Level of Knowledge Higher Of the inspectors, 61 percent think that workers and employers in work- in Worksites With Worker sites with worker representation have at least a “moderate” level of knowledge of legislation, regulations, and standards (see fig. 3.3). In Representation contrast, only 15 percent think that workers and employers in worksites without worker representation have the same level of knowledge. Page 32 GAO/HfUb91-9FS Occupational Safety & Health Improvement Section 8 Education and Training Figure 3.3: Employer and Worker Knowledge of the Act, Regulations, and Standards in Worksiter With or Without 60 Pormtt of rosponom for both rmployon and workon Worker Representation 40 SO 20 0 “PI Wry greet meat Modereta Some Utla or no l.ovol of knowledgr L-J With worker representation Wlthout worker representation Employers and Workers Inspectors think that both workers and employers are somewhat more More Knowledgeable knowledgeable about safety hazards than about health hazards (see fig. 3.4). About Safety Hazards Page 58 GAO/HItB91-9FS Occupational Safety & Health Improvement Section 9 Education and Training Figure 3.4: Employer and Worker K6owiedge of Sa&#ty Versus Health 50 Poroanl of raponsa for both l mployom and workom Hazard8 30 20 Vary great mat Some Littk or no Lovol of knowlodgo 1 Safely hazards Health hazards Most inspectors think that the lack of knowledge of legislation, regula- Effect of Lack of tions, and standards among both employers and workers contributes to Knowledge a “great” or “very great” extent to workplace injuries and illnesses, as well as health and safety violations. This opinion was most noted con- cerning the extent of health violations. Lack of knowledge contributes to health violations to a “great” or “very great” extent, according to 65 percent of inspectors (see table 3.2). Table 3.2: Contribution of Lack of Knowledge by Employer and Worker to Numbers in percentages Safety and Health Vlolations and Work- inspectors’ opinions on contribution Violations, injuries, and Related injurlecl and Illnesses illnesses Very great Great Moderate Some Little or no Safety violations 14 43 25 15 3 Health violations 23 42 20 13 2 Work-related injuries 12 38 30- 16 4 Work-related illnesses --- 17 41 24- 15 4 Page 84 GAO/HRD91-9F8 Occupational Safety & Health Improvement section 3 Exhcation and Training There was no clear consensus about the effectiveness of OSHA’Seduca- Perceived tion and training programs in educating and training workers and Effectiveness of OSHA employers about workplace safety and health issues. Inspectors think Education and that there are differences in the effectiveness of the three major pro- grams (Employer Consultation, the ~SHATraining Institute, and New Training Programs Directions grant) for educating employers (see table 3.3). In contrast, the inspectors believe the different programs are about equally effective for workers. They also believe the Training Institute and Consultation programs are generally less effective for workers than for employers (see table 3.4). The Employer Consultation Program received the most favorable rating for its effectiveness with employers. This may be because the program more directly serves employers rather than workers. Table 3.3: Effectivenesr of Education and Training Program8 Numbers in percentages Inspectors’ opinions on effectiveness for employers Little or Don’t Program Very great Great Moderate Some no know Consultation 11 34 29 15 7 5 OSHA Trainina Institute 10 25 19 27 14 5 New Directions 2 8 17 27 24 22 Inspectors’ opinions on effectiveness for workers Consultation 8 18 19 24 26 6 OSHA Trainina Institute 8 19 13 20 34 6 New Directions 3 7 16 25 29 21 Overall, the programs have little effect, some respondents said, because they reach few employers and workers, rather than because of problems with the programs themselves. Of the respondents, 69 percent (199) provided a total of 403 narrative Problems With comments about education and training. Most of these comments dealt Education and with three categories of weaknesses, examples of which appear below: Training Programs programs and materials are inadequate to meet the needs of employers and workers (141 comments); employers or workers or both need more and better training (100 comments); and programs are underutilized (59 comments). Page 35 GAO/HRD91-9FS Occupational Safety & Health Improvement Section 8 Education and ‘l-raining Programs Inadequate “Education and training provided by OSHAdoes not reach the workplace.” “Fund it or forget it. What we can put into [education and training programs] now will never have much impact.” Training Needed “We need much more emphasis in training workers about occupational safety and health hazards. Many of our worker complaints are nonserious or invalid not becausetheir workplaces are safe, but rather becausethey do not recognize the real serious hazards.” “It is especially important to educate both employers and employees on health hazards. They need to understand that sensory perception does not always indicate when a problem exists. Many deadly chemicals cannot be seenor smelled and many chemicals can be smelled long before they create a hazard.” “The majority of employers do not make it their responsibility to educate them- selves regarding S and H [safety and health] issues. They are more concerned with making their business operate profitably.” Programs Underutilized “We don’t actively seek out those in need of education and training. We are in a posture of waiting for interested parties to call us.” “The smaller employers cannot afford to send employees to safety classesand must do the training on their own, Sometimesthey request assistance. Other times they are unaware of any available assistance.” Page 38 GAO/HBD91-9FY3 Ckcupational Wety & Health Improvement Section 4 Employer Involvement in Safety and Health Programs The act requires each employer to provide employees with a place of Background employment that is free from recognized hazards that cause or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm, One way for an employer to do this is by developing a safety and health program that would identify worksite hazards and actions needed to correct them. OSHA requires safety plans in the construction industry. For other indus- tries, OSHA has issued voluntary guidelines, encouraging employers to establish safety and health programs. CBHA outlines four principal ele- ments in its voluntary guidelines: (1) management commitment and worker involvement, (2) worksite analysis, (3) hazard prevention and control, and (4) safety and health training. @HA’s mandated require- ments for construction include the last three elements. For survey questions related to safety and health programs, we focused Aspects Covered by on two aspects: how effective inspectors think the programs are and Questions whether the programs should be required. Effectiveness of Safety and Health Programs Required Safety and Of the inspectors, about 60 percent believe that requiring safety and Health Programs Needed health programs in general industry would “greatly” or “very greatly” improve safety and health in the workplace (see fig. 4.1). Of the inspec- in General Industry tors, 63 percent believe that if safety and health programs are required for general industry, no employer groups (for example, small businesses and employers in low-hazard industries) should be exempt. Moreover, inspectors overwhelmingly believed (94 percent) that safety and health programs should be required for employers in high-hazard industries and employers with a history of repeat violations. Page 37 GAO/HRD91-9FS Occupational Safety & Health Improvement , &&ion 4 Employer Involvement In Safety and c Health Program6 Figure 4.1: Expected Improvement in Elrfety and Health In Cbneral lndurtry It 40 Poroant ot total faapolmr Safety and Health Programs Were Requlrrd 30 20 0 10 II L 4 Expected Improvement Despite their endorsement of safety and health programs, most of the inspectors believe that required programs in the construction industry have resulted, at most, in moderately improving safety and health (see fig. 4.2). This could be because inspectors are concerned that the requirements for safety and health programs in construction are too general. Page 38 GAO/HRD-91.9Fs Occupational safety & Health Improvement seetton 4 Employer Involvement in Safety and Health Programe Figure 4.2: Improvement In Safety and Health In Conrtruction Industry a8 a 40 Par#ntoftotalmponaam Result of Requirement for Safety and Health Programs 30 20 Improvement achlevod Some inspectors caution, however, against overrelying on safety and health programs to ensure a safe and healthful work environment. Their comments included the following: “There is a tendency to rely on written programs when evaluating a safety and health program. What we often find in the workplace is that the written program is put into action poorly if at all. Monitoring is definitely neededto properly assess workplace hazards.” “A paper safety and health program will mean nothing without employer commit- ment. The requirement to have such a program may get a few more employers thinking [about] and working [on] safety and health programs, however.” Page 39 GAO/HRDOl-9PS Occupational Safety % Health Improvement Seaion6 I Worker Involvement requires employers t0 pOSt a notice (1) informing employees Background OSHA Of their rights under the OSHAct and (2) giving certain employees data on workplace injuries and illnesses. 0%~ expects workers, at a minimum, to comply with procedures established to protect them. The act provides that workers have the right to (1) inform OSHA when employers are not providing a safe workplace, (2) be represented in OSHA walkaround inspections, including reporting violations to the com- pliance officer during the inspection, and (3) request an inspection when they believe that an imminent danger or a violation of a safety or health standard exists that threatens physical harm. Section 1 l(c) of the act protects workers against discrimination by employers if workers exercise the above rights or any other rights afforded by the act. To carry out its mandate to protect workers against employer reprisals, OSHAoperates a Discrimination Investigations Pro- gram. Through this program, OSHA investigators decide whether to pursue discrimination complaints through the courts. For the questions related to worker involvement, we focused on two Aspects Covered by aspects: (1) whether current levels of worker involvement in various Questions areas of OSHA’S enforcement program are adequate and (2) whether the Discrimination Investigations Program is effective in protecting workers from employer reprisals. Level of Involvement More Worker Involvement Generally, inspectors want workers to be more involved in helping them to ensure employer compliance (see table 5.1). However, just 31 percent Needed in OSHA’s of the health supervisors think that workers should have “more” or Enforcement Activities “much more” involvement in OSHA’Senforcement program by requesting inspections, in contrast to over half the respondents from each of the other groups.1 %b-responding percentages for each of the other respondent groups are safety supervisors, 62 per- cent; health officers, 64 percent; and safety officers, 69 percent. Page 40 GAO/HRD-Sl-9IW Occupational Safety & Health Improvement Section 5 Worker Involvement fable 5.1: Needed Change to Worker Involvement in OSHA Enforcement Numbers in percentages Activitlea Inspectors’ opinions of involvement Activitv Much more More No change Less Much less Requesting inspections 17 42 38 3 0 Accompanying OSHA inwectors 18 47 34 1 0 Participating in settlement discussions 20 49 30 0 0 In November 1989, GAO testified before the House Committee on Educa- Worker Protection tion and Labor, Subcommittee on Labor Management Relations, about Against Employer inspector opinions on the lack of protection from employer reprisals Discrimination when workers engage in workplace safety and health activities2 The discussion below highlights some of the major points in that testimony. About one-third of the inspectors said that few if any workers are knowledgeable about their rights. Another 46 percent of the inspectors said that less than half of all workers are knowledgeable about their rights under the law concerning workplace safety and health activities, including their right to report violations to OSHA without being fired or otherwise discriminated against. Inspectors generally do not believe that workers are free to exercise their section 1 l(c) rights, such as to talk confidentially with an inspector. Fewer than 10 percent said that workers definitely could exercise these rights without reprisal; 22 percent said they definitely could not. A similar percentage of the inspectors (26 percent) expressed the belief that 1l(c) procedures provide workers little protection from reprisal when they report violations to OSHA.Inspectors reported that workers have even less confidence in protection than the inspectors do. Almost half (46 percent) said that workers themselves generally believe they would have little protection if they reported violations. As discussed in the testimony, inspectors believe several factors related to the law make it difficult for the agency to protect workers. These include (1) a requirement that complaints be filed within 30 days of the discrimination, (2) a requirement that the case be litigated in district court rather than before an administrative law judge, (3) the lack of 2HowmWellDoes OSHA Protect Workers From Reprisal: Inspector Opinions (GAO/T-HRD-90-8, fiov.16,1989~ Page 41 GAO/HRD-91.9Fs Occupational Safety & Health Improvement Section 5 Worker Involvement interim remedies while a case is being litigated or settled, and (4) ambi- guities in the law, such as circumstances under which workers may refuse to work because they believe they are in danger. Other factors inspectors cited included (1) the length of case-processing time, (2) the nature of the investigations, and (3) the difficulty in proving that employer reprisal has occurred. Page 42 GAO/IiItD91-QPS Occupational Safety L Health Improvement Page 48 GAO/HRD-91-9FS Occupational Safety & Health Improvement Appendix I Objective, Scope, and Methodology The objective of this report is to summarize the responses of OSHAsafety Objective and health inspectors to a mail questionnaire distributed as part of a review of options for improving worker safety and health.1 OSHAinspec- tors provide considerable insight concerning the daily operations of the OSHA program. Nevertheless, inspectors’ perceptions are based on their experiences and may not always be appropriate for setting or changing OSHA’S policies. For example, inspectors believe that specification stand- ards are more effective than performance standards, even though it is generally recognized by OSHA management that performance standards provide employers more flexibility in meeting a standard’s objectives. OSHA officials told us that inspectors probably believe that specification standards (1) are easier to enforce than performance standards and (2) provide employers greater guidance about how to comply with the standards. Scopeand Methodology Overview We sent a mail questionnaire to OSHA compliance officers and their supervisors (for convenience, when we refer to compliance officers and supervisors jointly, we call them “inspectors”), who are principally responsible for seeing that private employers comply with OSHA safety and health regulations and standards. For current OSHA compliance officers, we selected a random sample. But we surveyed all current OSHA field supervisors. The compliance officers and supervisors worked in all of OSHA’S 10 regions. We made minor modifications to the questionnaire to reflect differences in compliance officer and supervisor positions and responsibilities. We did our review from April 1989 to May 1990, in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. Sampling Approach for We obtained listings from OSHA identifying all inspecters as of April 12, Questionnaire 1989. We divided safety and health officers into separate universes and sampled each individually. Within each regional office we selected a random sample of approximately one-third of all safety officers and one-third of all health officers. The universe and sample sizes by type of inspector are shown in table I. 1. al Safety and Health: Options for Improving Safety and Health in the Workplace 90-66BR, Aug. 24,lQQO). Page 44 GAO/HRD-91BPS Occupational safety & Health Improvement Appendfx I ObJecthe, Scope, and Methodology Table 1.1:Total Inspectors and Total Sampled by Group QrouP Total Sample Percent Sefet; officers 552 it34 33.3 Health officers ~- 415 138 33.3 Swervisors 155 155 100.0 Total 1,122 477 42.5 We mailed copies of the questionnaire to each inspector in our sample and to all supervisors, and we sent one follow-up mailing to those who initially did not respond. Of those to whom we sent the questionnaire, 81 percent responded. For our questionnaire, we were only interested in surveying compliance officers and supervisors who did or supervised inspections. OSHA’Slist- ings did not identify employees by occupation; thus, we were not able to restrict our sample cases to inspection staff only. We therefore used a screening question in our questionnaire to select respondents who were either doing or directly supervising inspections, eliminating any other respondents from our sample. The number and percentage considered appropriate for our analysis are shown in table 1.2. Table 1.2: Respondents Dolng (or Supervlslng) Inspectlons by Sampled Respondents doing Group Respondents inspectlons Group Sample Number Percent Number Percent Safety officers- 104 146 79.3 124 04.9 Health officers 138 113 81.9 95 84.1 Supervisors 155 127 81.9 117 92.1 Total 477 386 80.9 336 87.0 Questionnaire results are projectable to an estimated universe of compli- ance officers and supervisors who (1) were doing inspections and (2) we expect would have responded had we sent the questionnaire to everyone in our universe. The size of the universe to which results can be pro- jected, after adjustments both for the response rate and the rate of respondents doing inspections, is shown in table 1.3. Page 46 GAO/HRD-91QlV3 Occupational safety & Health Improvement AppendixI Obhctlve, Scope, and Methodology Table 1.3:Calculation of the Unlverlro to Which Quertlonnalre Result8 Can Be Respondents dolng ProJected: Rerpondent Unlverre Doing Respondents Inspections (or Supewlslng) Innpectlonr Qroup Universe Rate Universe Rate Universe Safety officers 552 ‘19.3 438 84.9 372 Health officers 415 81.9 340 84.1 286 Supervisors 155 81.9 127 92.1 117 Total 1.122 905 715 In estimating the number of compliance officers doing inspections, we projected our questionnaire results without adjusting the universe for the respondent rate. We assumed that the percentage of nonrespondents doing inspections was the same as the percentage of respondents- 84.9 percent for safety and 84.1 percent for health. As a result, we esti- mated that 818 compliance officers were doing inspections (552 x .849 + 416 x ,841). The sampling error is plus or minus 36. Estimates derived from a statistical sample are subject to a certain amount of sampling error, which arises from taking a sample rather than surveying the entire population. Sampling error, also called a preci- sion of the estimate, is reported as a plus and minus value around the estimate. The sampling errors for percentages reported did not exceed plus or minus 7 percent for any estimate with a g&percent confidence level, Questions Soliciting In the questionnaire, at the end of five sections and throughout the sec- Narrative Responses tion on enforcement, we added questions that allowed the respondents to elaborate further on issues of concern to them that were not specifi- cally addressed by the earlier questions. In total, 23 questions asked for narrative comments and 62 questions provided discrete answer categories. For all of the narrative comments that we received, we did individual tallies for each question. We did this by reviewing the comments under each question for consistent themes and categorizing the comments by these themes. Some comments were moved or cross-referenced to other appropriate questions. Comments that did not apply to the question asked were removed from our analysis. When we refer to the comments made by inspectors, we identify the population as “respondents,” not “inspectors.” Page 46 GAO/IUDBl-QF’S Occupational Safety & Health Improvement Appendix II Respondent Profile About 47 percent of the 336 OSHAinspectors we surveyed who provided data about inspections have the official title of “Safety and Occupa- tional Health Specialist” (referred to in this report as “safety officer”). Thirty-six percent are “Industrial Hygienists” (referred to in this report as “health officer”). Of the inspectors, 16 percent are supervisors of safety officers (9 percent) or health officers (7 percent). These numbers are very close to the numbers for the actual universe as shown in table 11.1. Table 11.1:Total Inspectors and Respondent Unlverre by Sampled Numbers in percentages Qroupo Qrouo Universe Reroondents Safety officers 49 47 Health officers 37 36 Safety supervisors 8 9 Health sucwvisors 6 7 Total 100 990 ‘Total excludes investigator (0.4 percent) and other (0.5 percent). The sample represents all 10 regions in roughly the same proportions as existed in the universe, as shown in table 11.2. Table 11.2:Comparlron of Universe and Rsrpondent Percentage8 by Federal Numbers in percentages Reglon Realon Universe Respondentr 1 9.4 9.6 2 16.1 14.8 3 10.4 11.7 4 11.1 9.6 5 19.6 20.7 6 13.3 15.0 7 5.2 4.9 8 3.7 3.9 9 9.3 8.3 IO 2.0 1.6 Total 100.0 100.0 In our sample, which we assume is typical of the universe, all OSHA inspectors have at least a high school education; about 68 percent have at least bachelor’s degrees. Almost all health inspectors (98 percent) have bachelor’s degrees, as opposed to fewer than half (44 percent) of Page 47 GAO/HRB91-SF3 Occupational Safety 8 Health Improvement Appe* II Respondent Profile the safety inspectors. More health inspectors (42 percent) than safety inspectors (6 percent) also hold master’s degrees. Table 11.3:Highest Education Degree Obtained by inspectors Numbers in Dercentaaes Type of inspector Safety Health Dearee Safetv officer suoervisor Health officer SuDervisor Hiah school 42 34 0 4 Associate 15 13 0 2 Bachelor’s 38 45 59 50 Master’s 5 7 37 44 Doctoral 0 0 4 0 Among the inspectors who reported that they did inspections in fiscal year 1988, the median length of time that they reported having done inspections was 7 years. The median length of time that these inspectors had been employed with OSHAwas about 10 years. Table 11.4:Median Length of Servlce and Time Doing inspections for Inspectors Numbers in months Who Did (or Su ervieed) inrpections Safety Health (Fiscal Year 198tp) Overall Officers Supervisors Officers Supewisors With OSHA 125 131 180 78 155 Doing inspections 84 98 104 52 80 As swervisor 40 a 52 a 37 aNumbers not applicable Safety inspectors in our sample had been employed with OSHA longer than health inspectors. On average, safety officers had been employed about 4-l/2 years longer than health officers; safety supervisors, about 2 years longer than health supervisors. Page 48 GAO/HUD-91-W’S Occupational Safety & Health Improvement Appendix III SUmmary of Questionnaire Responses 1. Type of degrees/certificates held by the inspector I. Background Percent of Type inspectors Hiah school dirYoma or eauivalent 100 Associate dearee -19 Bachelor’s degree 68 Master’s degree 21 Doctoral dearee 2 State license 7 Professional certificate 21 Other 10 2. Current position title -- Percent of Title inspectors Safety and Occupational Health Specialist 47 SuDervisorv Safetv and Occupational Health Specialist 9 Industrial Hvaienist 36 Supervisory Industrial Hygienist 7 Other 1 3. Current level Percent of Level inspectors Trainee 3 Journeyman 78 Sulservisor 16 Other 3 Note: Unless otherwise stated, results were weighted based on compliance officer and supervisor responses; totals (where applicable) may not add to 100 percent because of rounding. In addition, per centages shown in appendix Ill will differ with those shown in the report sections if inspectors checked “no basis to judge” or “don’t know.” Y Page 49 GAO/HRD-91-9Fs Occupational Safety % Health Improvement 4. Employment history with W-IA Average in months Compliance Emdovment time officer SuDerviror Total with OSHA 108 164 As a journeyman inspector 87 93 As a suoervisor N/A 59 6. Approximate number of inspections performed or supervised in fiscal year 1988 72 per compliance officer (average) 368 per supervisor (average) 6. Percent of inspections performed or supervised during fiscal year 1988 that were health, safety, or both Percent of inspections Compliance Tvpe of in8pection officer Supervisor Safety 53 54 Health 38 37 Combined 9 9 7. and 12. Overall, how easy or difficult is it for employers to under- II. Safety and Health stand the OSHAsafety and health standards? Standards Percent of inspectors Standards Safety Health Very easy 1 1 Easv 25 12 About as easy as difficult 47 36 Difficult 22 34 Very difficult 2 7 No basis to iudae 3 10 Page 50 GAO/IiRD-91-9lT? Occupational Safety % Health Improvement Appendix III Summary of Questionnaire Reqwnw 8. How would you describe the overall effectiveness of specification- baaed safety standards versus performance-based standards for improving workplace safety? Percent of inspectors Specification-based safety standards... Much more effective 17 More effective 39 About as effective as oerformance-based standards 26 More ineffective 7 Much more ineffective 2 No basis to iudae 9 9. and 14. What proportion of serious worksite safety and health hazards are specifically covered by OSHAsafety and health standards? Percent of all inspectors Safety hazards Health hazards Most or all 59 34 About half 31 35 Few or none 1 5 No basis to iudae 9 26 Percent of safety or health inspectors0 Safety hazards Health hazards Most or all 67 45 About half 32 45 Few or none 1 9 No basis to iudae 0 1 ‘Table summarizes only the responses of safety inspectors on safety hazards and only health inspectors on health hazards. 10. and 16. Provide up to three, if any, of the most important safety (health) hazards that should be regulated by specific safety (health) standards but are not. Inspectors identified 79 specific hazards not covered. Page 61 GAO/HRD-olBJ?S Occupational Safety & Health Improvement Appendix IJI summary of Queiltlonnalre lteaponaaa 11. and 14. For all of the safety and health hazards observed during your inspections in fiscal year 1988, approximately what percent fell into the categories listed below: Average percent reported Safety hazards Health hazards Cited employer using specific standard 92 87 Cited employer using general duty clause 5 4 Could not cite employer because neither specific standard nor general duty clause could be used 4 9 13. With the advent of generic health standards such as the hazard com- munication standard, what will be the need for individual substance standards to regulate workplace health? Percent of -. - inspectors Much greater 14 Greater 27 About the same 37 Lesser 11 Much lesser 1 No basis to iudae 11 17. What else would you like to say about safety and health standards? 162 respondents provided 237 comments. Page 52 GAO/HRDBl-QJ?S Occupational Safety & Health Improvement Appendix III summary of Qlleotionnfilre Iteeponses III. Enforcement Overview 18. and 19. How effective or ineffective is OSHA’Soverall enforcement program in ensuring safe and healthful worksites and compliance with health and safety standards? Percent of inspectors Sate and healthful Compliance with worksites standards Verv effective 5 4 Effective 35 34 As effective as ineffective 41 42 Ineffective 16 18 Verv ineffective 3 2 20. What effect does the possibility of being inspected by OSHAgenerally have on what employers do to ensure safe and healthful worksites? Percent of inspectors Verv areat 7 Moderate 40 Some 24 Little or no 6 21. Is the current number of compliance officers CBHAhas to carry out its enforcement responsibilities about right, or should the number be increased or decreased? Percent of inspectors Greatly increase 60 Increase 35 Stay about the same 4 Decrease 0 Greatly decrease 1 Page 63 GAO/HUD-Bl-SFS Occupational Safety & Health Improvement 22. How adequately or inadequately has the training provided by OSHA (Training Institute as well as field training) prepared you to perform your overall enforcement responsibilities? Percent of inspectors Verv adeauatelv 12 Adequately 45 Moderately 32 Poorlv 9 Very inadequately 2 23, What additional training would you like to receive, if any, to improve or enhance your ability to perform your duties as an OSHA inspector? 192 respondents provided 306 comments about additional training needed. 24. For all the inspections you performed during fiscal year 1988, approximately how many times, if any, did employers refuse entry, preventing you from performing your inspections? On the basis of compliance officer responses, we estimate that in at least 1,092 instances, employers refused entry to CMHAinspectors. 26. How often do you think employers are aware, before the compliance officer arrives, that a targeted inspection is scheduled? Percent of InsDectors Always or almost always 0 Usually 1 About half of the time 4 Sometimes 20 Never or almost never 75 26. What else would you like to say about OSHA’S overall enforcement activities? 2 11 respondents provided 306 comments. Page 64 GAO/HlWB1-@F’s Occupational safety & Health Improvement Appendix III Snmnuuy of Questionnaire Beeponsee InspectionTargeting 27. and 30. How effective are OSHA’S inspection policies for targeting the most hazardous worksites for safety and health inspections? Percent of all inspectors Safety Health inspection inspection Very effective 4 2 Effective 24 17 As effective as ineffective 31 26 Ineffective 17 17 Very ineffective 9 8 No basis to judge 15 31 Percent of safety or health inspector8a Safety Health inspection inspection Very effective 6 3 Effective 28 19 As effective as ineffective 36 35 Ineffective 18 25 Very ineffective IO IO No basis to iudae 2 8 ‘Table summarizes only the responses of safety inspectors on safety inspections and only health inspectors on health inspections. 28. and 3 1. What information best identifies the most hazardous work- sites for targeting safety and health inspections? 210 respondents identified data for safety inspections. 164 respondents identified data for health inspections. 29. When conducting safety inspections, what information, not currently available to you, could help you better locate sources of safety problems at worksites? 160 of 336 respondents provided comments. Over half of the safety respondents provided comments. Page 66 GAO/HlZD-@l-SF9 Occupationd safety & Health Improvement Appendix KU summary of Questionnaire RlmponBea 32. When conducting health inspections, what information, not cur- rently available to you, could help you better locate sources of health problems at worksites? 124 of 336 respondents provided comments. Over 60 percent of the health inspector respondents provided comments. 33. What else would you like to say about OSHA’S inspection targeting? 170 respondents provided comments. Complaints 34. How appropriate is OSHA’Spolicy of responding to some complaints with letters rather than inspections? Percent of inspectors VW armromiate 22 Appropriate 41 As appropriate as inappropriate 21 Inappropriate 9 Verv inamromiate 6 36. Do you agree with OSHA’S criteria as to what kind of complaints will receive letters rather than inspections? Percent of -_- inspectors Yes 63 No 37 Y Page 66 GAO/HRD-Bl-BF% Occupational Safety 8z Health Improvement Appendix III Snmmary of Questionnaire I&8wmt3ea 36. and 37. During fiscal year 1988, in your inspections investigating a specific complaint, what proportion revealed serious, willful, or repeat violations? Percent ot inspectors When limited to specific When expanded to complaint comprehensive inspection Much more than in targeted inspections 6 7 More than in targeted inspections 15 25 About the same 36 43 Less than in targeted inspections 21 4 Much less than in targeted . inspections 8 2 No basis to iudoe 14 19 38. What changes, if any, do you believe should be made to improve OSHA’S procedures for responding to complaints? 102 respondents identified changes needed. Civil Penalties 39. What change, if any, is needed in the civil fines allowed by the OSH A& in order for the penalties to serve as a deterrent to employer safety and health violations? Percent ot inspectors Allowable penalties shoufci be... Greatlv increased I 46 Somewhat increased 30 Kept the same 21 Somewhat decreased 2 Greatlv decreased -i Page 57 GAO/HID-Bl-BFS Owupational safety & Health Improvement Appenarxrn f3nmmIuy of Qneetionnaire R4?eponsos 40. The chart below shows the current maximum allowable penalty by kind of violation. On the basis of your professional judgment and experi- ence, write in the amount that you think the penalty should be so as to serve as a reasonable deterrent. Current maxixiay; Your proposed maximum penalty* Willful violations $10,000 $25,000 Reoeat violations 10.000 15.000 Serious violations 1,000 5,000 Other than serious violations 1,000 1,000 Failure to abate or correct 1,OOO/day 1,OOO/day %ver half of the inspectors, on a weighted basis, recommended this maximum penalty or more. 41. OSHAhas recently levied some substantially larger initial penalties for egregious violations by permitting assessments of a penalty for each instance of a violation. What effect, if any, do you think this has had on other employers’ compliance with OSHArequirements? Percent of inspectors Very great 19 Great 27 Moderate 28 Some 15 Little or no 11 42. Do you believe OSHAshould use the “instance-by-instance” approach, described in question 41, more or less often or about the same as it does now? Percent of inwectors Much more 20 More 41 About the same 27 Less 8 Much less 5 Page 68 GAO/HRDBl-BFS Ckcupationd Safety & Health Improvement Appendix IJl hunmax~ of Clnestionndre Reeponsee 43. When employers contest a citation, the settlement agreement reached may result in the lowering of the initial penalty. For the inspec- tions you conducted during fiscal year 1988 in which penalties were reduced, do you believe that given the circumstances, the penalties were generally reduced by about the right amount, too much, or too little? Percent of inspectors Generally reduced by the right amount 44 Generally reduced too little -3 Generally should not have been reduced at all 16 Generally reduced too much 30 No basis to judge 7 44. In addition to current civil penalties available to OSHA,what other penalties or sanctions, if any, would you suggest that may serve as effective deterrents to safety and health violations? 160 respondents provided 211 comments. 46. What else would you like to say about OSHA'S civil penalties? 181 respondents provided comments, Criminal Prosecutions 46. and 47. If criminal sanctions for safety and health violations were used more often by government (federal/state and local), what effect, if any, do you think that would have on reducing violations? Percent of Inspector8 Criminal eanctlons used by Federal State and local Very great 41 39 Great 40 40 Moderate 11 13 Some 5 5 Little or no 3 4 GAO/HRD-91-9F8 Occupational Safbty & Health Improvement ‘, : II ,, :)),d! ““a;, APw* m snmmaly of QlIertiollnah Re8ponee$ 48. What legislative changes, if any, do you think are needed with respect to criminal penalties? 113respondents provided 182 comments 49. What administrative changes, if any, do you think would be neces- sary for OSHAand the Department of Labor to pursue criminal prosecu- tions more vigorously? 167 respondents provided 180 comments 60. What else would you like to say about the use of criminal sanctions? 119 respondents provided 126 comments Abatement 61. In the inspections you conducted or supervised in fiscal year 1988, approximately how many employers, if any, did you cite for serious, willful, or repeat violations? Inspectors reported citing, on weighted average, 7 1 employers. 62. Of the employers identified in question 61, approximately what per- centage fully complied with the terms of the abatement agreement? Percent of infmectors EmDlovers fully complied 72 Employers did not comply 6 Emolovers for whom I do not know 21 63. Again, of the employers identified in question 61, for approximately what percentage were you satisfied that the abatement agreement made at settlement would correct the problem? Inspectors reported, on average, that 83 percent of the agreements would correct the problems noted. Page 60 GAO/HRD91-9F’S Occupational Safety % Health Improvement 64. Which of the following is your principal source of knowledge for knowing whether or not employers comply with abatement settlements? Percent of lnrrpectorr Follow-up inspections I conduct 26 Follow-UD insoections conducted bv another comoliance officer 6 Employer’s resDonse to letter 53 Employer’s response to telephone call 1 Other 13 66. How appropriate is OSHA’Spolicy of using a letter to determine whether a violation has been abated? Percent of inspectors Verv aoorooriate 6 Appropriate 32 As appropriate as inappropriate 38 Inaoorooriate 18 Verv inawrorxiate 7 66. What changes, if any, do you believe should be made to improve OSHA’Sabatement-confirmation activities? 237 respondents provided comments. 67. What else would you like to say about 06~~‘s abatement-confirma- tion activities? 146 respondents provided comments. Page 61 GAO/HBDol-9PS Occupational Safety 8 Health Improvement , Appendix ID Summary of Queetlonndre aesponseS Imminent Danger 68. How strongly do you agree or disagree that in cases of imminent danger, OSHAinspectors should be allowed to carry out immediate shut- down operations without having to first obtain a court order? Percent of inspectors Strongly agree 53 Agree 27 Agree as much as disagree 10 Disagree 7 Strongly disagree 3 69. How adequately or inadequately has the training provided by OSHA (Training Institute as well as field training) prepared you to identify imminent danger situations? Percent of inspectors Very adequately IO Adequately 35 Moderately 29 Poorly 20 Verv inadeauatelv 6 60. In the inspections you conducted during fiscal year 1988, approxi- mately how many times did you find it necessary to have workers removed because of imminent danger? On the basis of compliance officer responses, we estimate that 2,130 instances occurred in fiscal year 1988. 61. Of those imminent danger situations referenced in question 60, (1) approximately how many were corrected while you were still at the workplace, before or after posting a imminent danger notice, and (2) in how many was it necessary to obtain a temporary restraining order from the court to compel removal of the danger? On the basis of compliance officer responses, we estimate that about 2,100 of the 2,130 instances identified in question 60 were corrected without a court order. Page 62 GAO/HItD91-9FS Occupational Safety & Health Improvement 62. Once the imminent danger situations were discovered, on average, how long would you estimate workers were at risk before a situation was resolved (270 respondents)? Percent of inspectors Less than an hour 71 Between 1 and 4 hours 13 Between 4 and 8 hours 6 More than 8 hours 10 63. Again, for those imminent danger situations referenced in question 60, (1) indicate whether or not there were any situations involving inju- ries or fatalities while abatement was being achieved and (2) if there were injuries or fatalities, approximately how many of each occurred during fiscal year 1988? Four respondents identified instances of injuries or fatalities. 64. What else would you like to say about OSHA'S responses to imminent dangers? 126 respondents provided comments. Page08 GAO/HIUbBl-BFB OccupatIonal Snfety & Health Improvement Appendix IU sulnmasy of t&leetionnaire RellpoMe6 66, In general, how knowledgeable do you believe the following dif- IV. Education and ferent groups of employers and workers are about safety hazards? Training Programs Percent of inspectors Knowledge of safety hazards Little or Very Don’t EmDlovero no Some Moderate Great great know 1. Overall, employers as a group 1 25 60 IO 2 2 2. Large-sized employers (over 500 workers) 0 4 24 41 30 2 3. Medium-sized employers (100 to 500 workers) 2 16 44 31 5 2 4. Small-sized employers (99 or fewer workers) 19 45 28 5 0 2 5. Employers with safety/ health clans 0 13 28 42 15 2 6. Employers without safety/ health plans 21 45 25 5 1 2 7. Employers with worker representation 1 12 47 28 8 3 8. Employers without worker rerxesentation 22 45 24 6 1 3 Worker8 I. Overall, workers as a group 9 48 38 4 1 1 2. Workers employed by large- sized employers 2 14 44 31 6 2 3. Workers employed by medium-sized emnlovers 6 38 42 11 1 2 4. Workers employed by small- sized employers 44 41 12 1 1 2 5. V$$?rs with safety/health 2 19 53 18 6 2 6. Workers without safety/ health plans 29 52 13 3 1 2 7. Workers with worker representation 2 25 44 21 5 3 8. Workers without worker representation 32 47 14 3 1 3 Page 64 GAO/HUD-@l-9PS Occupational Safety fk Health Improvement Appendix III summary of Qu&lonnaire ReaponseI3 66. In general, how knowledgeable do you believe the following dif- ferent groups of employers and workers are about health hazards‘? Percent of inspectors Knowledge of health hazards Little or Don’t Employers no Some Moderate Great g?z know 1. Overall, employers as a group 10 40 38 5 2 5 2. Large-sized employers (over 500 workers) 1 7 40 34 12 6 3. Medium-sized employers (100 to 500 workers) 4 33 42 14 2 5 4. Small-sized employers (99 or fewer workers) 42 38 14 2 0 5 5. Employers with safety/ health plans 1 21 45 23 5 5 6. Employers without safety/ health Plans 31 47 12 6 0 5 7. Employers with worker representation 4 29 40 18 3 6 8. Employers without worker representation 36 43 12 3 0 6 Workers 1, Overall, workers as a amuP 17 47 27 3 0 5 2. Workers employed by large sized emplovers 3 25 43 21 3 5 3. Workers employed by medium-sized employers 10 47 31 7 0 5 4. Workers employed by small- sized employers 59 27 8 1 0 5 5. Workers with safety/health plans 6 32 45 11 1 5 6. Workers without safety/ health Plans 49 38 7 1 0 6 7. Workers with worker reoresentation 7 37 34 14 1 6 8. Workers without worker representation 53 33 7 0 0 6 Page 66 GAO/HRD-9l-9Fs Occupational Safety & Health Improvement . 67. In general, how knowledgeable do you believe the following dif- ferent groups of employers and workers are about the OSHAct, regula- tions, and standards? Percent of in8pectorr Knowledge of act, regulatiotre, and standard, Little or Very Don’t Employers no Some Moderate Greet great know 1. Overall, employers as a ww 4 31 54 9 2 0 2. Large-sized employers (over 500 workers) 0 6 34 40 19 0 3. Medium-sized employers (100 to 500 workers) 3 26 45 22 3 0 4. Small-sized employers (99 or fewer workers) 29 46 21 4 0 0 5. Employers with safety/ health plans 1 21 46 26 6 0 6. Employers without safety/ health plans 26 51 19 3 0 0 7. Employers with worker representation 2 28 41 21 6 1 8. Employers without worker representation 28 48 20 2 1 1 Worker8 1. Overall, workers as a group 12 49 36 3 0 0 2. Workers employed by large- sized employers 3 25 43 23 5 0 3. Workers employed by medium-sized employers 11 45 36 7’ 1 0 4. Workers employed by small- sized employers 50 39 9 1 0 0 5piaErkers with safety/health 6 37 42 12 2 0 6. Workers without safety/ health plans 44 45 8 1 1 0 7. Workers with worker representation 7 39 37 13 2 1 6. Workers without worker rerxesentation 54 36 8 0 0 2 PIge 60 GAO/HUD-Bl-BFS Occupational Safety & Health Impmvement ~&TO what extent does the lack of knowledge or understanding by employers of the OSHAC%, regulations, and standards, contribute to safety and health violations and work-related injuries and illness? Percent of inspectors Very Little great Great Moderate Some or no Safety violations 13 46 25 14 1 Health violations 23 46 22 i 8 1 Work-related iniuries 9 35 30 15 2 Work-related illnesses 15 41 27 15 2 69. To what extent does the lack of knowledge or understanding by workers of the OSHAct, regulations, and standards contribute to safety and health violations and work-related injuries and illness? Percent of inspectors Very Little great Great Moderate Some or no Safety violations 17 40 24 15 4 Health violations 23 37 19 17 4 Work-related injuries 14 42 22 17 5 Work-related illnesses 18 40 21 15 5 Page 67 GAO/HRBBl-BF6 Occupationd Safety 8z Health Improvement .~ Appendix III summary of Quentionnalre Reaponeea 70. Through various programs and services, OSHAprovides information to employers and workers regarding safety and health matters. Indicate how effective you think each of the following CBHAprograms and ser- vices is for educating employers and workers regarding safety and health issues. Percent of Inspectors Degree of effectlveneas Educatlng/tralnlng Little or Very Don’t employer8 no Some Moderate Qreat great know OSHA Training Institute 14 27 19 25 10 5 OSHA publications 9 28 37 21 3 1 Technical advice/assistance 8 19 35 27 9 2 Audiovisual aids 15 34 25 19 1 6 Speakers 6 23 29 30 8 3 Consultation assistance 7 15 29 34 11 5 Voluntary Protection Program 24 25 20 11 7 13 Grants program (New Directions1 24 27 17 8 2 22 Educating/training workers OSHA Training Institute 34 19 13 19 8 6 OSHA publications 20 32 27 16 4 1 Technical advice/assistance 19 25 26 21 6 3 Audiovisual aids 25 26 23 19 3 5 Seeakers 15 26 24 25 8 3 Consultation assistance 26 24 19 18 8 6 Voluntary Protection Program 34 26 15 8 4 13 Grants program (New Directions) 29 25 16 7 3 21 7 1. What else would you like to say about education and training? 199 respondents provided 403 comments. Page 68 GAO/HRDBl-BFS Occupational Safety % Health Improvement 72. OSHA’Sconstruction standards require employers to have safety and V. Employer health programs. How much, if any, have safety and health in the con- Involvement struction industry improved because of these requirements? Percent of inspector8 Very greatly 3 Greatly 10 Moderatelv 25 Somewha; 22 Little or no 18 No basis to iudae 23 73. Some employers in general industry have voluntarily developed safety and health programs, and OSHAhas published guidelines to assist them in developing such programs. How much would it improve safety and health in general industry if such programs were to be required? Percent of inspector8 Very greatly -__ 13 Greatly 36 Moderatelv 27 Somewhat 17 Little or no 6 No basis to judge 1 I 74. Should high-hazard employers, repeat violators, both, or neither be required to have safety and health programs? Percent of inspectors Hiah hazard onlv 3 Repeat violators only 1 Both 90 Neither 2 No basis to iudae 5 Page09 GAO/HFUbBlQFS Occupational Safety fk Health Improvement . , Appendix III SumnarY of Questionnab Respoxwe8 76. Which employers in general industry, if any, should be exempt from a requirement to develop and implement safety and health programs? (CHECK ALL THAT APPLY) Percent of inspector8 No general industry employers 63 General industrv emolovers with fewer than 10 workers 1s Employers in industries with ---.-_--- ___- below-average injury and illness rates 10 Employers, regardless of industry category, with below-average injury and illness rates ----_----_-.-- _.- ._..- -- 5 All aeneral industrv emolovers 6 Other 5 76. Would worker safety and health be improved, remain the same, or deteriorate if OSHAwas to place greater emphasis on evaluating required employer safety and health programs and less on monitoring compliance with specific standards? Percent Of inspectors Greatlv imorove 7 Improve 16 Remain __ the ..~same _........._ .._-.. _.__~. --~- 16 Deteriorate -.____ ..__-----.-.-.-. ..--. .~ 40 Greatlv deteriorate 19 77. What else would you like to say about employer involvement? 144 respondents provided 178 comments. Page 70 GAO/HRD-91.9Fs Occupational Safety % Health Improvement Appendix III Sumnuuy of Questionnaire Responw~ 78. In general, what change, if any, is needed in worker involvement in VI, Worker osHA’s enforcement program? Involvement Percent of inspectors Much less Less No change More Much more Requesting inspections 0 3 38 42 17 Accompanying OSHA inspectors 0 1 34 47 18 Participating in settlement discussions 0 0 30 49 20 79. In general, how adequately do most OSHAinspectors explain section 1 l(c) antidiscrimination provisions during their opening conferences? Percent of inspectors Very adequately 11 Adequately 45 Moderately 28 Poorly 11 Not explained at all 6 80. Approximately what proportion of workers do you believe are knowledgeable about their rights under section 1 l(c) procedures? Percent of inspectors All or almost all 0 Most 4 About half 17 Some 46 Few or none 33 Page 71 GAO/HRB91-9PS Occupational Safety & Health Improvement Appendix III Summary of Qneationndre Itesponses 81. Overall as a group, how free do you believe workers are to exercise their section 1 l(c) rights? (For example, to talk confidentially with OSHA inspectors.) Percent of inspectors Free to exercise riahts 9 Moderately free to exercise rights 26 Somewhat free to exercise rights 43 Not free to exercise riahts 22 82. In general, how well protected do workers believe they will be by section 1 l(c) procedures if they report violations to OSHAagainst their employers? Percent of inspectors Very well 0 Well 2 Moderately 15 Somewhat 36 Little or not 46 83. In general, how well do you believe workers are protected by section 1 l(c) procedures when they report violations by their employers to OSHA? Percent of inspector5 Very well 2 Well 12 Moderately 24 Somewhat 36 Little or no 26 Y Page 72 GAO/HRD-91-9PS Occupational Safety 81 Health Improvement . Appendix III Mlmmmy Of QnsatiImalre ReapoIlsei3 84. What else would you like to say about worker involvement? 136 respondents provided 190 comments. 86. Any other comments? 76 respondents provided 109 comments. Page 78 Appendix IV CommentsFrom the Department of Labor ” U.S. Department of Labor Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Washington. IX. 20210 OCT 4 1990 Mr. Franklin Frazier Director of Education and Employment Issues U.S. General Accounting Office Washington, D.C. 20548 Dear Mr. Frazier: The draft General Accounting Office (GAO) report, "Inspector opinions of the OSRAProgram," which the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has reviewed, presents the results of a survey mailed in Way 1989 to all of the agency's field st-u supervisors and a randomly selected sample of approximately one-third of OSHA's compliance safety and health officers (CSHOs). OSHA's concerns are not with the survey or its results, but rather with its timing. In our letter to you of June 19, 1990 (which appears as Appendix IV to the GAO report issued earlier this month, S&&ions for mrovina metv andHealth in #R m), we stated our belief that throughout that report GAO placed too much reliance on the results of the survey it had conducted of 322 OSHAcompliance officers and 155 first-line supervisors. We also noted that by consulting only first-line supervisors, GAO had failed to tap one of the most important sources of professional expertise in the agency--0SRA's Regional Administrators, Area Directors, and other senior field managers. Elsewhere in our letter of June 1990, we noted that GAOhad presented a comprehensive overview of the problems facing Secretary Dole and myself when I assumed office on October 6, 1989, but that since that time there had been significant changes in OSHA's operations. Moreover, since my letter of June 1990, the pace of change in the agency has, if anything, accelerated. It is our conviction that a number of the opinions represented in GAO's draft report, "Inspector Opinions of the OSHAProgram," reflect an institutional state of mind which may have changed over the past year. While the opinions GAOpresents have historical relevance, we believe they may have less relevance to the current opinions of OSIiA inspectors. Never before in the agency's history, has our field staff been involved as much as it has in the past year in planning for the agency's future. Nonetheless, we are continuing to evaluate, most seriously, all of the options proposed by GAO in its llOptionsl' report. I am pleased to note that a number of the issues raised in those Page 74 GAO/HRD-91-9PS &cupationd Safety fk Health Improvement Comments From the Depwtment of Labor options are already being addressed by OSHAas the agency strives to develop programs and policies to improve workplace safety and health. Since the results of the survey were not issued along with the 9~0ptions1V report, readers of the llInspector Opinions" report will have no way of knowing that what they are reading may not represent current inspector opinions of the OSHAprogram. Under the circumstances I am sure you will agree that this letter be printed along with your forthcoming report, "Inspector Opinions of the OSHAProgram." sincerely. Assistant Secretary Page 75 GAO/HRIM&@PS Ckcupatlond Safety & Health Improvement Appendix V Major Contributors to This Fact Sheet Carlotta J. Young, Assistant Director, (202) 52343701 Human Resources Division, Washington, D.C. David J. Toner, Evaluator-in-Charge Phi1ade1phia Re@onal Regina Santucci Evaluator Office Marilyn R. Fish&, Computer Programmer Specialist Harry S. Shanis, Design Methodology Specialist Page 70 GAO/Hl?D@l-9PS Occupational Safety 8 He&h Improvement c Page 77 GAO/IilEb@b9FS Ckcu~tlonal Safety & Health Improwmant Page78 Page79 ‘ RdaM GAO Products Occupational Safety & Health: Options for Improving Safety and Health in the Workplace (GAOjHRD-go-66~~, Aug. 24, 1999). How Well Does OSHA Protect Workers From Reprisals: Insnector Onin- A * * ions (GAO/T-HRD-90-8, Nov. 16, 1989). Occupational Safety & Health: OSHAContracting for Federal Rulemaking Activities (GAO/HRD-89-102BR, June 16, 1989). Occupational Safety & Health: California’s Resumption of Enforcement Responsibility in the Private Sector (GAO~HRD-89-82,Apr. 17, 1989). Occupational Safety & Health: Assuring Accuracy in Employer Injury Ed Illness Records (GAO/HRD-89-23, Dec. S&1988). OSHA'S Resumption of Private Sector Enforcement Activities in Cali- fornia (GAO/T-HRD-~&19, June 20, 1988). OGHA'S Monitoring and Evaluation of State Programs (GAO/T-HRD-88-13, Apr. 20,1988). (soalra) Page80 GAO/HID-@l-@I?3 OccupationalSafety& HealthImprovement ..--. ..““-.l.l-. ---.._- . ..--... .._I -... _.. ..II_- ___..-.. ._ ..I- __-._____- __I--~ -_ L---.-l_ -------- I___--.~^_-____-- Orttc~riug luforu~;Lt~iou 1 ‘I’hv first, five c’opies of e~h (;A() report, are free. Additional copies itrt* $2 t~91. Orders should be sent to the following address, accom- panitvj by INcheck or ruoney order made out, to the Superintendent of I)ocurut~ut,s, when necessary. Orders for 100 or more copies to be nuClt&d to ;8 single address are diseouuted 26 percent. I1.S. Gmt~ra.1 Accounting Office I’.(). Rox 6016 (;;tithtv-sburg, MI) 201377 Orders may also btb plactd by calling (202) 2756241. I .” ; *_,“-_. Illt”*-l*, “__*(_“l( ..l”-l. I. ..--.---_.-.- -. ---- _-.._ - ___.-.. . -. ..- _.- -.._.._ - .__. _.” .__. _l.ll.-l*.- ,I”y”*yII” ““.-*-....--
Occupational Safety & Health: Inspectors' Opinions on Improving OSHA Effectiveness
Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1990-11-14.
Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)