Most state workplace safety programs did not meet performance goals, an annual report by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration studying 21 state programs in fiscal year 2015 has found. This is largely because of high staff turnover and insufficient federal funding in many states, OSHA said.
Still, most states reported better rates of compliance than the federal rate, according to the Federal Annual Monitoring and Evaluation (“FAME”) report. The federal average for employers in compliance with safety laws was about 28 percent. On the state level, at least one of three employers (33.33 percent) was found to be in safety compliance in Arizona, Kentucky, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia, and Washington.
The worst rate of compliance was reported in Hawaii, followed by Wyoming, Alaska, and Maryland. In Alaska, for example, the 2014 FAME report found that the state agency was failing to provide adequate training for compliance staff. The 2015 report said the Alaska state agency had invested significant resources during the year, but noted that four employees employed for over three years have yet to receive “core training.”
The report evaluated whether states met their inspection goals and whether inspection results were consistent with violations and fines set by federal OSHA. State fines are expected to increase in 2017, after the states adopt the 78-percent increase to follow the federal increase. (See our article, Maximum OSHA Fines for Safety Violations Increase by 78%.)
According to the 2015 report, three states — California, Kentucky, and Wyoming — had fines higher than the federal OSHA average of $2,003. Further, 10 states had average serious violation fines of less than $1,000.
Of the 21 states, 15 did not meet their goals for health inspections and 14 failed to meet their goals for safety inspections.
Finally, the 2015 FAME report revealed that 13 state-OSHA programs were less likely to issue citations when they conducted inspections, with Indiana and Nevada producing citations in fewer than half of the inspections. In federal OSHA cases, 28.5 percent of inspections did not lead to citations.