Occupational Health Inspections and Consultations Generally Appear Adequate

HRD-81-39: Published: Jan 19, 1981. Publicly Released: Jan 19, 1981.

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GAO reviewed the adequacy of health inspections and consultations made by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and State industrial hygienists in four States. Completed inspection and consultation files were reviewed, and industrial hygienists were interviewed and accompanied on some inspections and consultations.

It was found that: the industrial hygienists were well qualified; health inspection and consultation procedures were adequate; sampling equipment was generally accurate, reliable, and available in sufficient quantities; health inspections and consultations were generally complete; and hazardous conditions in work places were identified. While inspections and consultations were usually done properly, in some cases inspectors and consultants did not follow correct sampling procedures, classify violations and issue citations correctly, cite all violations found in the citations and reports issued to employers, make required followup inspections, or completely evaluate areas requested by employers. The laboratories visited appeared to be accurately analyzing samples. However, the OSHA evaluation of laboratories was limited, and potential problems were noted. Of the eight laboratories reviewed, seven were not accredited, two did not participate in a laboratory proficiency testing program, and two were rated nonproficient for the last 2 years. Exposure levels determined by industrial hygienists may be inaccurate because error factors to be applied to laboratory results appeared too small, and outdated and/or improperly stored detector tubes were used.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Labor should direct the Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health to evaluate whether the use of outdated or improperly stored detector tubes for screening samples is appropriate.

    Agency Affected: Department of Labor

  2. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Labor should direct the Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health to assure that sampling and analytical errors used by industrial hygienists appropriately reflect the analytical abilities of the laboratories that analyze their samples.

    Agency Affected: Department of Labor

  3. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Labor should direct the Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health to require that samples being analyzed in laboratories that continue to be nonproficient in proficiency analytical testing be analyzed elsewhere, such as at the Wisconsin laboratory.

    Agency Affected: Department of Labor

  4. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Labor should direct the Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health to act to ensure that laboratories analyzing industrial hygienists' samples provide accurate results.

    Agency Affected: Department of Labor

 

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