Occupational Safety and Health:

Improvements Needed in OSHA's Monitoring of Federal Agencies' Programs

HRD-92-97: Published: Aug 28, 1992. Publicly Released: Aug 28, 1992.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) monitoring of federal agencies' safety and health programs and implementation of the Hazard Communication Standard.

GAO found that OSHA: (1) monitors federal agencies' safety and health programs differently from the approach envisioned in its regulations; (2) is not conducting required annual evaluations of the 15 agencies identified as the largest or most hazardous agencies, and it rarely evaluates the 95 or so other agencies, even when their work-related injury and illness rates are high; (3) inspects federal work places but makes limited use of inspection results in assessing agencies' programs; (4) does not require agencies to provide evidence of actions to correct hazardous conditions, inspect agencies for compliance with program requirements, or use inspections to identify and correct programmatic and agency actions to correct identified hazards; and (5) is not required to and does not monitor how well federal agencies implement the Hazard Communication Standard.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: To strengthen OSHA monitoring of federal agencies' safety and health programs, the Secretary of Labor should direct OSHA to analyze agencies' annual reports to identify indicators of program implementation problems.

    Agency Affected: Department of Labor

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In April 1993, OSHA established a task group to identify the information OSHA should collect from federal agencies on their safety and health programs and develop a means for agencies to report this information to OSHA. Beginning with their FY 1993 annual reports, which are due to OSHA in January 1994, federal agencies are required to report baseline program performance indicators.

    Recommendation: To strengthen OSHA monitoring of federal agencies' safety and health programs, the Secretary of Labor should direct OSHA to include monitoring for compliance with program requirements in inspections it makes at agencies' work places.

    Agency Affected: Department of Labor

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: OSHA revised its instructions to inspectors to have them monitor federal agencies' safety and health programs for compliance with applicable program requirements during inspections they conduct at agency workplaces.

    Recommendation: To strengthen OSHA monitoring of federal agencies' safety and health programs, the Secretary of Labor should direct OSHA to use the results of work-place compliance inspections to identify potential systemic weaknesses in agencies' programs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Labor

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: OSHA revised its procedures for conducting federal agency safety and health evaluations. The results of agency work-place compliance inspections will now be used as part of OSHA's assessment of the agencies' programs.

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