Each year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration ("OSHA") issues a Site-Specific Targeting ("SST") Plan identifying for inspection industry sectors with historically high occupational injury and illness rates The SST-2009 plan will target manufacturing, non-manufacturing, and nursing and personal care facilities.
The SST program is in addition to any National and Local Emphasis Programs and does not apply to the construction industry. The current National Emphasis Programs ("NEPs") in effect focus on amputations, lead, crystalline silica, shipbreaking, trenching/excavations, petroleum refinery process safety management and combustible dust. OSHA currently has approximately 140 Local or Regional NEPs in effect.
States with OSHA-approved State Plans are required to have their own inspection targeting systems and policies. These inspection policies and procedures must be at least as effective as Federal OSHA's 2009 Site-Specific Targeting Plan.
Creating the SST-2009 Plan
OSHA collects injury and illness data through its annual Data Initiative Survey from 80,000 larger establishments (40 or more employees) in industries with historically high injury and illness rates. OSHA looks at Days Away, Restricted or Transferred ("DART") and Days Away from Work Injury and Illness ("DAFWII") rates. The 2007 data that was collected in the 2008 Data Initiative Survey provides the basis for the SST-2009 program. The sites to be inspected will be those with DART and DAFWII rates that are considerably higher than the national average for their industry.
Establishments to be Inspected
The following facilities will be placed on a Primary Inspection List and will be inspected unless an exemption applies: manufacturing establishments with a DART rate at or above 8.0, or a DAFWII case rate at or above 6.0 (3100 sites); non-manufacturing facilities with a DART rate at or above 15.0, or a DAFWII case rate at or above 13.0 (500 sites); and nursing and personal care facilities with a DART rate at or above 17.0, or a DAFWII rate at or above 14.0 (300 sites).  For comparison, the national DART rate for private industry for 2007 was 2.1, and the DAFWII case rate was 1.2. If an OSHA area office inspects all facilities on its Primary Inspection List prior to the expiration of the SST-2009 Plan (July 2010), it will then inspect facilities on its Secondary Inspection List and then its Tertiary Inspection List. Secondary and Tertiary facilities have injury and illness rates greater than certain others in their industries, but less than those on the Primary Inspection List. In addition, some facilities that failed to answer the OSHA Data Initiative Survey will also be inspected.
Area Offices will be responsible for making appropriate deletions from their list of inspections. For example, an establishment will be deleted from the inspection list if, within 36 months of the creation of the current inspection cycle, the facility received a comprehensive safety inspection or a "records only" inspection. Nursing and personal care facilities (SIC code 805) will be deleted if, within 36 months of the creation of the current inspection cycle, it received an inspection that focused on ergonomic stressors, exposure to blood and other potentially infectious materials, exposure to tuberculosis and slips, trips and falls.
In addition, public sector employers are to be deleted as well as employers participating with OSHA in a Strategic partnership, Voluntary Protection Program ("VPP"), or Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program ("SHARP").
The inspections under this plan will generally be safety (as opposed to health) inspections, however health inspections will be conducted at nursing and personal care facilities. Health inspections will also be conducted when a safety compliance officer identifies potential health hazards at manufacturing and non-manufacturing facilities and/or when an inspection scope is broadened by the Area Director based on the prior inspection history of the particular employer.
If an OSHA inspector knocks, the employer should request credentials and ask for an opening conference to determine the reason for the inspection. A company representative should accompany the compliance officer at all times during the inspection. Injury and illness logs should be up to date and available for review. If a compliance officer takes a photograph, measurement or sample, the employer should do the same from the same vantage point or location. The company representative should also be present during all management interviews and should debrief all other employees following their interviews with OSHA. If any trade secrets exist, these should be made known to the compliance officer prior to the inspection walk-around. Employers have a right to refuse to allow an inspection without a search warrant, but requiring a search warrant should only be used after consulting with counsel and in rare circumstances.
Citation Resolution Options
If an employer is going to be cited by OSHA, the citation must be issued within six months of the commencement of the inspection. Employers may request an informal conference with the Area Director within 15 working days of the receipt of the citation. At the conference, the employer should focus on any items in controversy and ask for the specific relief they desire. Penalty reductions and classification modifications are frequently offered at informal conferences. If an informal settlement is not reached, employers must contest the citation to prevent it from becoming a final order. Counsel is usually retained for this purpose. After a contest is filed, the case will be assigned to an Administrative Law Judge with the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. An attorney from the Department of Labor, Solicitor's Office, will defend OSHA. As in any other civil case, the case enters a discovery phase and may be settled or proceed to hearing. An adverse ruling may be appealed to the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission and further to the United States Court of Appeals.
Employers will serve themselves well by closely monitoring their injury and illness rates and maintaining levels below the national average to avoid an OSHA site-specific targeting plan.