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Warning letters are being sent by the Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration to about 14,900 establishments with higher-than-average injury and illness rates, advising them that they may be inspected for safety and health violations as part of the agency's Site-Specific Targeting Program.
The letters, sent every spring, inform general industry workplaces that they could be inspected and that they should consider hiring an outside safety and health consultant or work with their insurance or workers' compensation carrier. Establishments with 250 or fewer workers can request a free consultation from their area's OSHA office and not worry about a resulting enforcement action, the letter said.
The Site-Specific Targeting Program is carried out every year by OSHA with the intent of contacting and inspecting businesses with the highest “days away from work, restricted or transferred” rates--DART rates for short. OSHA determines which companies go on the list by analyzing OSHA Form 300 logs. Inspection guidance details were announced by OSHA in September, although at that time employers did not know if they were on the list (62 BTM 299, 9/20/11).
This year's program has at least two significant differences from past efforts. The criteria for inclusion on the list have been changed. Previously, workplaces needed a minimum of 40 workers to be considered. This year the cutoff was lowered to 20 workers.
Also, OSHA is gauging the effectiveness of the letters and inspections by conducting a test; employers will not be notified of their inclusion in the study.
The study, covering about 420 establishments, will compare changes in injury and illness rates of companies in three groups:
The list of businesses receiving letters is contained in a zip file, available at http://www.osha.gov/as/opa/foia/hot_18.html.
Text of the letter is available at http://op.bna.com/env.nsf/r?Open=sbra-8stq5w.
The site-specific target program directive is available at http://op.bna.com/dlrcases.nsf/r?Open=czon-8syuqs.
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