SST-16 Inspections: Who’s targeted, why, and how to prepare.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s new program triggers comprehensive inspections based on employers’ electronic submissions.

The new Site-Specific Targeting 2016 (SST-16) Program targets employers whose OSHA 300 log data shows unusually high or unusually low injury rates. The program also targets employers that are required to submit electronic injury data to OSHA and failed to do so.

Who Is Affected

As of October 16, 2018, and for the next 12 months, federal OSHA will use employers’ electronic OSHA 300 A submissions to target employers for comprehensive, wall-to-wall inspections. These inspections may be safety or health inspections, or both, based on employers’ 2016 OSHA 300A Annual Summary forms. These programmed inspections apply to non-construction workplaces with 20 or more employees that OSHA selects from among what it calls High-Rate and Low-Rate Establishments.

If you are in a state with its own OSHA program, such as Virginia or North Carolina, your state-run program has until April 16, 2019, to either adopt the federal OSHA SST inspection plan or to implement their own targeting policies and procedures.

Targets Are Random

The SST-16 directs that “OSHA will create inspection lists of establishments with elevated Days Away, Restricted or Transferred (DART) rate, together with a random sample of establishments that did not provide the required 2016 Form 300A data to OSHA.” The employers are chosen using software that randomly selects the establishments from the categories above.

According to OSHA, including non-responding employers will deter employers from failing to report in order to avoid inspection. Similarly, OSHA will verify the reliability of the 300A data by including a sample of low DART (Days Away, Restricted, or Transferred) rate establishments.

Employers who received a comprehensive safety or health inspection within 36 months of the creation of the SST-16 inspection list will not be targeted for inspection again.

OSHA has not described how an employer can know whether its DART rate is high enough to make it a High-Rate Establishment and subject to the comprehensive inspections. Employers that submitted 2016 Form 300A data should compare their DART rates to the industry average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides several online resources, such as the Incidence Rate Calculator and Comparison Tool.

If your DART rate is above the national average for your North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code, we recommend you prepare for a comprehensive SST inspection. A listing of NAICS Codes can be viewed by accessing the NAICS homepage.

Remember and be aware OSHA also intends to inspect a random sample of establishments with low DART rates “[t]o verify the reliability of the Form 300A data reported to OSHA.” All employers must remain vigilant in complying with all applicable OSHA standards.

Accurate Reports Are Essential

In addition to maintaining a safe workplace, assure your OSHA 300 log reporting is accurate. In our experience, some employers either over-report by including non-reportable incidents or under-report. Either situation could increase your potential for an inspection.

Preparation Is Difficult but Necessary

Although employers can somewhat prepare for an OSHA visit when they self-report fatalities, hospitalizations, and amputations, SST inspections are unannounced and random.

SST inspections are comprehensive and not limited to recordkeeping practices, potentially hazardous areas, or operations with an elevated DART rate. Comprehensive inspections take significant time and resources and usually result in substantial citations and financial penalties.

Proactivity Beats Reactivity

OSHA clearly lays out in the SST-16 how the agency plans to use the injury and illness data it electronically collects from employers. Given the impact of the data on programmed OSHA inspections, employers should proactively monitor and address patterns in their injury and illness rates and carefully ensure they submit accurate records to OSHA.

As a practical matter, you should do the right thing and get in compliance now, so you do not have to worry about whether your workplace is on a targeted list. Proactivity is far better than reactivity when it comes to OSHA regulatory compliance.

If you’re unsure whether you could be targeted or whether you’re in compliance, contact us to conduct thorough and comprehensive OSHA compliance assessments and provide training on the preparation of OSHA 300 logs.