US Labor Department Safety Audit vs OSHA

According to a recent federal study, both North and South Carolina have been deemed to be the safest places to work in the country with the least number of injuries reported.

As this report states:

North Carolina’s Labor Department said Thursday the state’s rate of injuries or illnesses at private companies dropped to a historic low in 2009. The 3.1 percent rate compares with 3.4 percent in 2008.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said there were just over three cases of illness or injury per 100 full-time workers in both Carolinas. Injury rates in both states were near the country’s lowest along with Texas, Louisiana, Virginia and New York.

But, the workplace safety in South and North Carolina has been heavily criticized by the US Labor Department for suggesting paltry fines to companies flouting the laws and not taking safety issues seriously enough.

Another state OSHA that has also come under fire recently, California, has hit back at the US Labor Dept’s audit suggesting that its criticisms asking for better complaint resolution and improved safety training are irrelevant due to the audit relying heavily on out of date information and lacking understanding of the state’s process.

As reported by ABC:

Cal/OSHA chief Len Welsh said in an interview Thursday that the federal audit didn’t provide documentation for many of its claims, making it difficult to pinpoint failures and make effective changes.

Cal/OSHA could change the way it responds to complaints as a result of the audit’s criticism that the state takes an average of 24.5 days to initiate an investigation after a complaint is received, a process that should only take three days.

To speed up the process, Welsh said the department may stop sending on-site inspectors to workplaces for low-priority complaints — those alleging non-serious hazards — to reduce inspection workload. Cal/OSHA can make the change unilaterally, Welsh said, but it wants to vet it with stakeholders before changing protocol.

“As time goes on and resources dry up we’re going to have to find ourselves prioritizing what we do more and more,” Welsh said.