In August, OSHA compliance officers in six field offices - Harrisburg, Pa.; Austin, Tex.; Billings, Mont.; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Atlanta East and West - began conducting general industry inspections using the Program Evaluation Profile (PEP) Form OSHA-195 in a pilot study that runs until November 15. The safety ratings derived from the evaluation will be factored into a new formula for adjusting penalties, also to be given a tryout.
For years, inspectors have less formally assessed safety and health programs based on OSHA's 1989 voluntary management guidelines, and used those evaluations to determine "good faith" discounts in penalty cases. The new audit system, with its 15 itemized program subsets and accompanying tables that broadly define five performance grades for each component, take OSHA's evaluation process to a more sophisticated level.