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OSHA Implements New Inspection Weighting System with a Greater Emphasis on Falls and Other Fatal Hazards

In a recently released memo, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced that it is implementing a new “OSHA Weighting System (OWS)” that is intended to replace the “Enforcement Weighting System (EWS)”. OWS will encourage the appropriate allocation of resources to support OSHA’s efforts to promote safe and healthy workplaces, and continue to develop and support a management system that focuses enforcement activities on critical and strategic areas where the agency’s efforts can have the most impact like fatalities and .  The new OWS is currently being enforced for fiscal year 2020, which began on October 1, 2019.

 

In its memo, OSHA lists falls, being struck by an object, electrocutions, and being caught in/between structures, machines, or equipment as the leading cause of fatalities in the construction industry. Historically, under EWS, OSHA used the number of completed inspections as a primary metric to measure enforcement activity. This metric has lead to an unintended incentive to complete less demanding inspections rather than inspections requiring a greater amount of field resources. Under the new OWS system, federal safety inspections involving criminal investigations and often-fatal hazards like those outlined above will now be given greater weight when tracking enforcement and other OSHA safety efforts. OSHA considers proactive inspections addressing these hazards both within and outside the construction industry to be highly impactful with the potential to prevent the types of incidents that are most likely to result in the death or serious injury of a worker.