OSHA Workplace Inspections Increase Slightly in 2017

OSHA

By Kathleen Jennings (kjj@wimlaw.com)

In fiscal 2017, Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspectors finished 32,396 inspections, according to agency data.  This is a slight increase from the 31,948 inspections completed in fiscal 2016 (which was the fewest inspections OSHA conducted in 20 years). In contrast, in both fiscal 2011 and 2012, OSHA conducted 40,600 inspections each year. So, while we saw a slight increase in the number of OSHA inspections this year, the overall number is still well below the peak Obama administration years.

What makes this slight increase in the number of OSHA inspections surprising is that OSHA has had to decrease its staff numbers due to a decline in its budget.  What seems to be happening is that OSHA has been concentrating its resources on the types of inspections that had the most impact, in terms of preventing fatalities, severe injuries, and work illnesses.

The industry that saw the greatest increase in inspections was construction, up 9% from 2016.  This may be due, in part, to a resurgence of construction in the economic recovery.

Due to a new fine structure, average fines were up in 2017.  The average fiscal 2017 fines were $65,228 for a willful violation, up 57 percent; $11,359 for a repeat violation, up 30 percent; and $3,553, for a serious violation, up 48 percent.

We expect to see a similar pattern for 2018.

We wish everyone a safe New Year!

Kathleen Jennings, Principal is a principal in the Atlanta office of Wimberly, Lawson, Steckel, Schneider, & Stine, P.C. She defends employers in sexual harassment and other employment litigation and provides training and counseling to employers in employment matters.   She can be contacted at kjj@wimlaw.com.

©2017 Wimberly Lawson

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