Secretary of Labor Acosta: OSHA Inspections to Increase

Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta
U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta. Image credit: Department of Labor

According to recent testimony by U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) workplace inspections will increase in the future.

In 2017 and 2018, OSHA workplace inspections occurred at a rate of about 32,000 each year, an increase from the number of inspections in 2016. According to Secretary Acosta, OSHA has hired 76 new inspectors, and as soon as they complete their training, the number of inspections per year will increase even more. Secretary Acosta anticipates their training will be completed in anywhere from one to three years, depending on their prior experience and the complexity of the inspections they may carry out.

Discussing the recent increase in inspections, Secretary Acosta said, "These numbers are impressive, particularly given that OSHA dedicated substantial resources in fiscal year 2018 to hiring and training new inspectors. In August 2017, OSHA was provided blanket approval to hire needed inspectors to carry out its important work. The result was the hiring of 76 new inspectors in fiscal year 2018."

In the 2018 fiscal year, in addition to its 32,000 inspections, OSHA personnel made 26,362 compliance assistance visits, covering more than 970,000 workers, and identifying and correcting 135,021 hazards.

"During this time, these new hires do not generally conduct independent inspections," he added. "OSHA has been hard at work to onboard and train new inspectors and expects to have a significant increase in inspectors in fiscal year 2019."

Secretary Acosta believes the increase in the number of inspectors and inspections is warranted.

"Even as employment substantially increased and less-experienced workers were onboarded, the numbers and rates of fatal injuries and nonfatal injuries and illnesses in the workplace declined," he said. "With 43 fewer workplace fatalities in 2017, reversing a three-year upward trend, the fatality rate fell to 3.5 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers."

He added that this decrease occurred in spite of the increase in fatalities due to overdoses from non-medical use of drugs or alcohol, which increased from 217 to 272 nationwide in 2017.

Acosta gave his testimony to the House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee on Apr. 3, 2019.

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