OSHA is putting more heat on the worst safety and health offenders, establishing an Enhanced Enforcement Program.

"EEP is for cases where there's been a fatality with a related high-gravity serious violation, or where there are three or more high-gravity serious violations classified as willful or repeat, or two or more failure to abate citations with underlying high-gravity serious violations," explained OSHA chief John Henshaw in a recent speech.

"Our preliminary data show that less than one percent of our 2004 inspections fall into this category," Henshaw said. "It's always been my contention that 99 percent of employers want to do the right thing. The concern I want to point out is that the majority of these EEP cases — more than 80 percent — involve fatalities. About half of those were at construction sites.

"All of these cases will receive extra scrutiny and review. Where the circumstances warrant it, cases will be referred to (the) Justice (Department) for consideration for criminal prosecution."