Earlier this month, the federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration (“OSHA”) sent notices to over 14,000 employers with higher than average employee occupational injury and illness rates. The letters offer OSHA’s assistance in protecting their workers. The letters were only sent to employers in states where federal OSHA directly enforces safety and health rules. States with enforcement deferral programs, such as North and South Carolina, are not included in the mailings.
These notices are consistent with federal OSHA’s stated enforcement priorities. The agency has decided to focus on employers with poor actual safety experience, and also to push advance consultative assistance as an alternative to enforcement action. The letters’ offer of consultative services targets employers with fewer than 250 employees that may not have adequate in-house expertise. Although the letters do not threaten enforcement action, notified employers can reasonably expect that they will receive increased compliance scrutiny in the future. State deferral programs will likely follow federal OSHA in this type of proactive outreach program.