Access any firm's inspection history

For all of you wondering if the Internet has any value, check out a recent addition to OSHA's homepage on the World Wide Web (http://www.osha.gov/). What you'll find is the agency's equivalent of the Toxic Release Inventory compiled by EPA. Click on the What's New listing on OSHA's homepage and you'll quickly see that the agency has added (as of June 6th) two new ways to search its vast reservoir of data. One is called "Establishment Search"; the other "SIC Search". "Establishment Search" is a query tool that locates any and all OSHA inspections conducted (since 1972) at a particular workplace-plant site, office, whatever. "SIC Search" allows you to conduct the same kind of search for a particular industry.

"You can't hide anything anymore," says Dan Markiewicz, an industrial hygienist with Aeroquip-Vickers and regular ISHN columnist, who tipped us off to this treasure trove of information. Dan relates this story: He was on the phone to another safety and health professional explaining this OSHA search capability. While they were talking the professional jumped on the Web, went to OSHA's homepage, found "Establishment Search," and typed in her own company's name. There was silence for a few seconds, then she said, "Oh my God..." We decided to try it out using the parent company of Industrial Safety & Hygiene News, which happens to be a modest enterprise called The Walt Disney Company.

A search for inspections of the The Walt Disney Company turned up two that were conducted at 3300 Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. One took place on June 7, 1993, and uncovered two violations; the other on Aug. 9, 1995, resulted in no violations. By clicking on a link to the June, 1993, inspection we were able to learn this inspection information: 120 employees work at the 3300 Wilshire Boulevard address; nationwide, Disney employs 25,000; employees covered by the inspection were affiliated with a union. The inspection was planned, partial in scope, with no advance notice given, and took 16 hours to complete. The establishment received one other-than-serious citation, with a penalty of $185, and one serious citation, with a penalty of $935. Both citations were issued on June 10, 1993. The serious violation was abated the next day, and the other-than-serious violation was abated June 21. Both violations were contested in July, 1993, and both were subsequently deleted. By clicking on a link to the serious violation, we learned that it related to one instance, with one employee exposed. The degree of severity, or gravity, was 00. The state dismissed the violation on Sept. 22, 1993.

Since a search of The Walt Disney Company turned up only two inspections, we decided to type "Disney World" into the establishment search box. This search took a little longer-not surprising since it ended up listing 61 inspections going back to May 2, 1973. One inspection was conducted of the Walt Disney World Golf Resort in December, 1979. Hmmm, what could go wrong on a golf course? This inspection was triggered by a complaint filed on Nov. 26, 1979. Five other-than-serious violations were cited-one related to general requirements for walking-working surfaces, another to means of egress-and no penalties were assessed. The violations were abated within days and the case was closed Jan. 24, 1980.

This gives you an idea of the wealth of enforcement information that's now accessible in minutes. Think of the possibilities: ·

  • Safety and health pros interviewing for jobs can scope out the OSHA track record of a potential employer. ·
  • Consultants can go prospecting for companies with troubled OSHA histories. ·
  • Activists can alert communities to so-called "bad actors" in the neighborhood. ·
  • Reporters can target "bad actors" for investigative stories. ·
  • Employees can research their own company's OSHA history. ·
  • Employers can benchmark their OSHA performance against competitors. ·
  • Employers can also check the OSHA experience of any company they might consider acquiring.

All this data "is going to be used for good and bad reasons," says Markiewicz. And now there's another reason to run a clean safety program.

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