Weighted Inspection Enforcement Units

A new enforcement weighting system assigns greater value to complex inspections that require more Occupational Safety & Health Administration resources and, agency officials note, will allow strategic planning and measurement of inspections while ensuring all workers are equally protected, regardless of the industry they work in. Effective October, the system assigns “Enforcement Units” to each inspection. Routine inspections count as one unit; those requiring greater resources and involving such factors as musculoskeletal disorders, chemical exposures and process safety management violations, count as up to nine units. Values are based on historical data and will be monitored and adjusted as necessary.

“All inspections aren’t equal—some are complex and require more time and resources—and many of those have the greatest impact. This new system will help us better focus our resources on more meaningful inspections,” said OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels upon announcing the system during the National Safety Council conference in Atlanta.

Employers can expect to see an increase in the number of complex inspections, notes Nickole Winnett, a shareholder in the Washington, D.C. Region of labor management counsel Jackson Lewis P.C. With a greater focus on such inspections, she adds, employers would do well to review their policies and procedures to ensure that they meet all OSHA requirements.