Enforcement of OSHA

OSHA's budget for fiscal year 2001 was $426 million. The agency has a staff of 2,370, including 1,170 compliance safety and health officers. Twenty-six states run their own OSHA State Programs with 2,948 state employees, including 1,275 compliance safety and health officers.

OSHA inspected 37,493 workplaces during fiscal year 2002. The 26 states running their own OSHA programs conducted an additional 58,402 inspections.

Top priorities of OSHA are reports of imminent dangers-accidents about to happen; second are fatalities or accidents serious enough to send three or more workers to the hospital. Third are employee complaints. Referrals from other government agencies are fourth. Fifth are targeted inspections-such as the Site Specific Targeting Program, which focuses on employers that report high injury and illness rates, and special emphasis programs that zero in on hazardous work such as trenching or equipment such as mechanical power presses. Follow-up inspections are the final priority.

OSHA penalties range from $0 to $70,000, depending upon how likely the violation is to result in serious harm to workers. Other-than-serious violations often carry no penalties but may result in penalties of up to $7,000. Serious violations may have penalties up to $7,000. Repeat and willful violations may have penalties as high as $70,000. Penalties may be discounted if an employer has a small number of employees, has demonstrated good faith, or has few or no previous violations. For more information on OSHA penalties, see Section 17 of the OSH Act or information on penalties in the OSHA Publication All About OSHA {PDF File}.

Employers have the right to contest OSHA citations and/or penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. Employers must file notices of contest within 15 working days of being issued citations.

OSHA maintains an inspection database on this website that you can use to search for companies by name or by Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code. You can limit your search by state or by year if you wish.

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