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Understanding OSHA’s Weighted Inspection System

Although the Occupational Safety and Health Act specifies no inspection quota, the number of inspections has always been a metric in measuring OSHA’s enforcement activities, the amount of time and the number of inspections conducted was looked at. 

To change the approach from a numbers-based system to hopefully a more impactful system for inspections, OSHA changed the way they looked at the different types of inspections.  In 2015 OSHA moved to a weighted system, which assigned enforcement units (EU’s) to each inspection.  The more complex or serious the nature of the inspection, the higher the value of enforcement unit it was assigned.  The belief is that these inspections will take more time and will require more of a CSHO and Area Office’s focus.  With this weighted system, OSHA is trying to ensure all inspections will get the adequate resources needed.  In 2019, a revised weighing system was released.  OSHA’s goal is to prioritize inspections based on the following criteria:

Group A: 

  • Criminal and significant cases

Group B:

  • Fatalities and catastrophes;
  • Chemical plan national enforcement priority and process safety management covered inspections

Group C:

  • Caught-in hazards, such as trenching, equipment operations, oil & gas
  • Electrical hazards, such as overhead power lines, electrical wiring methods
  • Fall hazards, such as scaffolds, elevated walking working surfaces
  • Struck-by hazards, such as highway work zones, landscaping, material handling

 Group D:

  • Programmed inspections following an established priority hazards that are time insensitive and a high priority, such as:
    • Amputation
    • Combustible dust
    • Ergonomics
    • Federal agency inspections
    • Heat hazards
    • Non-permissible exposure limit overexposures
    • Workplace violence hazards
    • Confined space hazards
    • Personal sampling
    • Site specific targeting

 Group E: all other inspections

This weighting system provides good insight into the types of hazards that might attract OSHA’s attention in 2021.

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