But with a limited budget, OSHA has to make tough calls on which facilities to inspect, and relies heavily on whistleblowers to identify unsafe workplace practices. Recent audits by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) have found that OSHA “did not always effectively target and inspect the highest risk industries and worksites” due to lack of information.
Yet the data’s there. By visualizing the mountains of retrospective data collected by BLS, OSHA could identify and target those employers and sites with a disproportionate percentage of accidents.
Take a look at this chart, created by the National Health Service to examine patient falls across all nursing homes in the United Kingdom. The blue bar indicates the percentageof total patients in that facility who’ve fallen (institution names removed to protect the guilty); the red dot shows the total number of patients who’ve fallen.
In the two nursing homes on the far left, nearly half of all patients have fallen, while in the two facilities on the right, only 5% of patients have fallen. However, that 5% represents a much larger number of overall patient falls—770 and 682 , compared with 20 and 109 for those on the left.
By visualizing the data in this way, OSHA can determine at-a-glance where to target their inspections. Not only does this information enable DOL to efficiently allocate its limited resources, but also it ultimately empowers the agency to better meet its mission: to create safer, healthier working conditions for millions of Americans.
Image by Ed Brown (Ed Brown) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons