Manufacturing industries with elevated injury and illness rates in Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska face an increased probability of getting a comprehensive safety and health inspection as a result of an initiative launched by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration on January 25.

Under a Regional Emphasis Program (REP) administered by OSHA’s Region 7 (covering Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska), industries in these states having injury and illness rates exceeding the average for the private sector and which have not received a comprehensive inspection since 2011 will be under special scrutiny.

Establishments with 10 or fewer employees, industries employing 3,000 or less workers per state within Region 7, and worksites that have had comprehensive inspections since 2011 will be excluded.

The REP directive states that the initiative is region-wide. However, Iowa (which is one of 28 OSHA-approved State Plans) is excluded from the program, according to the news release announcing the REP.

A “high hazard” list for safety inspections has been drawn from the top industries within the region with the highest “Days Away, Restricted or Transferred” (DART) rates for calendar year 2013, as determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. “High hazard” industries for health inspections have been created by using three fiscal years of OSHA inspection data (FY 2012 - FY 2014), and by calculating what OSHA calls the serious violation rate per inspection (SVPI). Hazards related to lifting and other ergonomic stressors also will be evaluated.

Manufacturing industries targeted for safety inspections based on the DART rates and their corresponding industry classification codes are:

  • food (311),
  • nonmetallic mineral products (327),
  • fabricated metal products (332),
  • machinery (333),
  • computer and electronic products (334), and
  • furniture and related products (337).

Industries targeted for health inspections using the SVPI data are:

  • beverage and tobacco products (312),
  • wood products (321),
  • printing and related support (323),
  • primary metal (331), and
  • miscellaneous (339).

Inspections will be preceded by a three-month period of outreach aimed at raising awareness of the hazards associated with the targeted industries and informing stakeholders and employers of the elements of the REP. According to the REP directive, emphasis will be on contacting organizations such as consulates and faith-based and community groups to assist in reaching limited-English-proficiency workers. The REP expires on September 30, 2016, but may be renewed based on evaluation of the program at that time, the directive states.

According to the REP, each comprehensive inspection will include an assessment of ergonomic hazards and process safety management where applicable. Employers in the targeted industries should consider reviewing their safety and health programs and be prepared for the REP inspections to cover machine guarding, lockout-tagout, combustible dust, hazard communication, and confined spaces.