Identifying safety and health violations with complaint based inspections
Kennedy, Shannon I.
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OSHA is responsible for overseeing the safety and health of America's workforce. Considering their limited budget, employee complaint inspections can be a useful way of channeling resources to where they are most needed. A study by the General Accounting Office discovered that industries with more injuries had more inspections, and suggested that complaints may be useful in locating hazardous worksites. From this, we posed the following questions: (1) Can complaints be used as an indicator for high injury industries? (2) Are there factors associated with the outcome (i.e. whether a hazard is found by the compliance officer) of a complaint? Using 2007 inspection data from the Buffalo Area OSHA Office, we found complaint inspections were not a good indicator of hazardous worksites. Also, alleged hazards were found less often when the complainant was anonymous, when the complaint alleged fewer than 3 hazards or the company was in the construction industry.