OSHA inspected 37,493 workplaces in the United States during fiscal year 2002, which ended on Sept. 30, 2002, the agency reported. That's 1,093 inspections more than the fiscal year target of 36,400 inspections.

The average penalty for serious violations rose from $930 in FY 2001 to $977 in FY 2002.

Serious violations of workplace safety and health laws accounted for 70 percent of all OSHA violations found. The agency says that this figure, the highest ever, shows that it is directing inspectors to the work sites most needing enforcement action.

"No worker should be injured or killed on the job," said OSHA chief John Henshaw. "While there are fewer workplace fatalities each year, we still have more to do. We will continue to work with employers and employees to drive down injury and fatality rates even lower. A safe and healthful workplace, free from recognized hazards, is the right of every worker in America."

The top five most frequently cited OSHA standards are also in the most hazardous industries and areas with the most potential for serious illness, injury or death: scaffolding, hazard communications, fall protection, respiratory protection and lockout/tagout.

OSHA's increased enforcement activity came during a year when the agency also dedicated unprecedented resources at the World Trade Center site in New York. Over a ten-month period, more than 1,000 inspectors from state, consultation and federal OSHA offices around the country were sent to assist in the New York effort.