Wednesday, May 1, 2013

GAO Report Released: Workplace Safety and Health OSHA Can Better Respond to State-Run Programs Facing Challenges

Recently, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report, titled Workplace Safety and Health OSHA Can Better Respond to State-Run Programs Facing Challenges GAO-13-320 (Apr. 16, 2013). The details of the 45-page report, available here, are discussed below:

Why GAO Did This Study

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is generally responsible for setting and enforcing occupational safety and health standards in the nation's workplaces. OSHA carries out enforcement directly in 34 states and territories, while the remaining 22 have chosen to administer their own enforcement programs (referred to as state-run programs) under plans approved by OSHA. GAO was asked to review issues related to state-run programs. This report examines (1) what challenges states face in administering their safety and health programs, and (2) how OSHA responds to state-run programs with performance issues. GAO reviewed relevant federal laws, regulations and OSHA policies; conducted a survey of 22 state-run programs; and interviewed officials in OSHA's national office, all 10 OSHA regions, and from a nongeneralizable sample of 5 state-run programs; and interviewed labor and business associations and safety and health experts.

What GAO Recommends

Congress should consider giving OSHA a mechanism to expedite assistance to states experiencing challenges. In addition, OSHA should take a number of actions, including facilitating access to training; establishing time frames for resuming enforcement if states do not address challenges in a timely manner; and documenting lessons from its past experiences in resuming federal enforcement of state-run programs. In response, OSHA agreed with the recommendations and said it will explore ways to implement them.

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