The Department of Labor Office of Inspector General (OIG) commissioned a third-party audit of OSHA which found the agency didn’t “consistently ensure complaints and referrals were adequately addressed nor regularly enforce hazard abatement timelines.”

Inspections from complains and referrals made up a little more than 40% of OSHA’s total inspections for fiscal years 2019 and 2020. A complainant expressed concern that OSHA may not be adequately considering the statements of complainants and witnesses when responding to complaints and referrals, which led to the audit.

An independent firm, the Lopez Group, conducted the audit of 100 random complaint and referral cases; the found that OSHA:

  • Doesn’t consistently involve complainants or witnesses in the investigation process,
  • Has no policy requiring inspectors to interview or involve complainants after a complaint is filed,
  • Didn’t provide reasoning as to why it didn’t conduct an inspection for 11 out of 30 sampled cases where a complaint or referral met its criteria for conducting an inspection, and
  • Didn’t regularly ensure safety and health violations from complaints and referrals were corrected in a timely manner.

OSHA disagreed with the audit’s findings and recommendations. The agency took issue with the small sample size of cases used in the audit and a lack of information on The Lopez Group’s methods and criteria, which it says will make it difficult to conduct follow-up audits of its own.

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About the Author

Jon Knight

Jon Knight leads the NASP Team’s media creation department. He has been involved with workplace safety training since 2017 with a focus on course creation. He also provides video production and voiceovers for NASP content.
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