Safety Matters?

| February 24, 2010

A blog on the website The Hill caught my eye this morning.  It is entitled “More than 70 percent of Congressional offices violate OSHA worker safety standards.”  This is an alarming finding.

What was even more disturbing is that the blog went on to say that this result – 70% of office areas in violation of OSHA standards – was seen as an improvement because the number of violations found during previous inspections was even higher. 


Having piqued my interest, I headed over to the website for the Office of Compliance to take a look at the report myself. 

What I found was the Biennial Report on Occupational Safety and Health Inspections dated June 2009. 

There are some interesting things in this report –

  • Although details about the inspection criteria and protocols used for the Office of Compliance inspections was not provided, the inspections seemed to be heavily focused on the OSHA electrical and fire regulations.  As a result, the primary types of hazards identified appeared to be electrical and fire hazards.
  • Clearly missing from the report was any discussion of ergonomic hazards associated with office work.  It is difficult to accept that simply because there is no OSHA ergonomics standard, no ergonomics hazards exist in these offices.  The irony being that the reason there is no OSHA ergonomics standard is that Congress blocked OSHA from developing one.
  • The inspections conducted did NOT include assessment of written safety and health programs – even though this report acknowledges that “agencies can reduce considerably the incident and severity of on-the-job injuries by implementing effective safety programs.” 

This is a significant omission given that the most frequently issued OSHA citations are associated with the lack of safety programs such as hazard communication programs. 

The reason given for this omission? 

The employing offices (i.e. Congressional members) were concerned about the time required to develop safety programs, their lack of readiness for inspection as well as “legal issues.” (see page 19 of the report).

Given the results reported and, more importantly, the omissions from the inspections actually conducted, it makes one wonder about the wisdom of giving awards to members of Congress for “office safety”.  The results to date do not appear to demonstrate a commitment to safety that should be commended.

© ENLAR® Compliance Services, Inc. (2010)


Category: OHS Metrics & Measurements

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