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OSHA Changes Site-Specific Target criteria for 2004

OSHA is making changes this year to how the agency targets high-hazard worksites for inspection under its primary enforcement tool, the site-specific targeting program.

The agency said 4,000 worksites will be targeted in 2004, compared with the 3,200 inspections announced in 2003. Part of the increase is due to inspections of nursing homes and personal care facilities. For the past two years, these workplaces were covered under a separate National Emphasis Program that addressed specific industry hazards, but that program was ended last year. OSHA said nursing home inspections under the SST program will continue to focus on ergonomic stressors relating to resident handling, in addition to bloodborne pathogens/tuberculosis concerns and slips, trips and falls.

One key change in the 2004 plan involves how the agency selects its target list. In the past, the agency has done its targeting based on injury and illness data collected during the previous six years. This year it is using what is called the DART rate, a system that looks at injuries or illnesses that put workers off the job or on restricted work activity. Sites that reported 15 or more injuries for every 100 full-time workers based on this criterion, as noted on employer logs submitted to OSHA, are among the 4,000 sites marked as priority targets.

The primary list also includes sites based on a "Days Away from Work Injury and Illness" rate of 10 or higher. These are worksites that have 10 or more cases involving days away from work per 100 full-time employees. Employers who escape the primary list--those who reported DART rates of between 8.0 and 15.0 or Days Away From Work rates between 4.0 and 10.0--have been placed on a secondary list for possible inspections.

How workplaces are targeted for inspection has been an ongoing issue for OSHA stakeholders.

At least three OSHA advisory committees--the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health, the Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health and the National Advisory Committee on Ergonomics--have either made recommendations on enforcement targeting or engaged OSHA officials in discussions.

For example, the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health convened a workgroup in 2003 to study OSHA inspection-targeting issues.

The committee recommended that OSHA convene stakeholder discussion groups to receive more input on targeting, examine alternative models to select inspection targets, and better articulate and communicate inspection criteria.