All About OSHA
OSHA inspections-A fact of life for automotive recycling facilities
Under the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act of 1970, Congress created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to “assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.” The OSH Act covers employers and their employees either directly through federal OSHA or through one of the 27 OSHA-approved state programs. Four of these 27 however only apply to public service employees (CT, IL, NJ, and NY). OSHA uses its 10 regional offices and 90 local area offices to carry out its mandate. 

What Does OSHA Look Like?

OSHA describes itself as a relatively small agency; with its state partners the program has approximately 2,200 inspectors responsible for the health and safety of 130 million workers, employed at more than 8 million worksites around the nation – which translates to about one compliance officer for every 59,000 workers. Even with this ratio, OSHA has reached into many businesses, including those in the automotive recycling industry.

In addition to an on-the-ground inspection force, OSHA also provides phone helplines and e-mail access to those who need assistance or who wish to file a complaint. Just last year, more than 200,000 individuals utilized these services – including nearly 43,000 callers who selected the option to file a complaint about a workplace hazard, and more than 32,000 inquiries made through the OSHA e-correspondence system.

What OSHA Requires from Automotive Recycling Facilities – Meeting its Standards

OSHA standards are rules that describe the methods employers are legally required to follow to protect their workers from hazards. Before OSHA can issue a standard, it must go through a very extensive and lengthy process that includes substantial public engagement, notice and comment. The agency must show that a significant risk to workers exists and that there are feasible measures employers can take to protect their workers.

OSHA has developed over 100 specific standards applicable to general industry (including automotive recycling facilities) for the following categories.


• Walking-Working Surfaces
• Exit Route & Emergency Planning
• Occupational Health and Environmental Control
• Hazardous Materials
• Personal Protective Equipment
• Environmental
• Medical and First Aid
• Fire Protection
• Compressed Gas and Compressed Air Equipment
• Materials Handling and Storage
• Machinery and Machine Guarding
• Hand & Portable Powered Tools &
Other Hand Held Equipment
• Welding, Cutting and Brazing
• Electrical

As noted in other articles in this issue, OSHA’s top 10 most commonly cited violations of standards in 2011 include:
    1. 1926.451 – Scaffolding
    2. 1926.501 – Fall Protection
    3. 1910.1200 – Hazard Communication
    4. 1910.134 – Respiratory Protection
    5. 1910.147 – Lockout/Tagout
    6. 1910.305 – Electrical, Wiring Methods
    7. 1910.178 – Powered Industrial Trucks
    8. 1926.1053 – Ladders
    9. 1910.303 – Electrical, General Requirements
    10. 1910.212 – Machine Guarding

Of particular interest are the following 10 most frequent violations for 5015 facilities:

• 19100305  16  8  14122 Wiring methods, components, and equipment for general use.
• 19040029  13  5  3300   Forms.
• 19101200  12  8  3930   Hazard Communication.
• 19100178  10  7  3375   Powered industrial trucks.
• 19100106  8  3  12465   Flammable and combustible liquids.
• 19100215  8  5  5455     Abrasive wheel machinery.
• 19100157  5  5  5144     Portable fire extinguishers.
• 19100023  3  3  2715     Guarding floor and wall openings and holes.
• 19100219  3  2  1800     Mechanical power-transmission apparatus.
• 19100037  2  2  1584     Maintenance, safeguards, and operational features for exit routes


To support safe operations at businesses, OSHA offers training courses and educational programs to help broaden worker and employer knowledge of the recognition, avoidance, and prevention of safety and health hazards in their workplaces and to successfully meet these standards. OSHA also offers training and educational materials that help businesses train their workers and comply with the OSH Act.

Through the Outreach Training Program and the OTI Education Center Program, OSHA makes available a selection of occupational safety and health classes designed for workers and employers. In addition to courses and materials, OSHA also offers grants to nonprofit organizations to develop training materials and/or deliver training and education for workers and employers. 


OSHA believes its enforcement efforts are vital to ensuring workplace safety and health. Reportedly, enforcers target the most hazardous workplaces and the employers that have the highest injury and illness rates.

OSHA’s targeted inspection efforts focuses on establishments with high injury and illness rates and both Local and National Emphasis Programs (LEPs and NEPs). The emphasis programs focus on industries with high injury, illness, or fatality rates, or on hazards such as lead, silica, or the risk of amputations. The Enhanced Enforcement Program is designed as a supplement to these programs to focus enforcement efforts on recalcitrant employers.


According to OSHA’s Integrated Management Information System (IMIS), Federal and State OSHA programs conduct approximately 80,000-90,000 inspections each year, broken down into total, programmed, and unprogrammed protocols.  Programmed inspections are often triggered due to high hazards in the workplace, recorded injuries and fatalities as well as high Days Away, Restrictions and Transfers (DART) rates.

In FY 2011 there were 40,215 federal inspections and 52,056 state inspections. The automotive recycling industry accounts for a very small percentage of these interventions as is noted below.

For example, in FY 2010, OSHA conducted 40,993 total inspections. This number includes 164 significant and egregious (instance-by-instance) enforcement actions, each resulting in a total proposed monetary penalty of more than $100,000. In addition, OSHA conducted 24,759 programmed inspections. These inspections indicate that OSHA devoted more resources to proactively target the industries and employers that experienced the greatest number of workplace injuries and illnesses. 

OSHA also conducted 16,234 unprogrammed inspections, including employee complaints, accidents, and referrals. Currently there are NEPs focusing on the hazards of combustible dust, amputations, lead, crystalline silica, and trenching/excavations. In addition, OSHA has more than 140 Regional/Local Emphasis programs around the country.

Local Emphasis Programs (LEPs) for Automotive Recycling Industry

OSHA relies primarily on its LEPs and NEPs, and the Site Specific Targeting Program for the vast majority of its enforcement work. Of particular interest to automotive facilities are LEPs, which are enforcement strategies designed and implemented at the regional office and/or area office levels. These programs are intended to address hazards or industries that pose a particular risk to workers in the office’s jurisdiction. Oftentimes, these LEPs will be accompanied by outreach intended to make employers in the area aware of the program as well as the hazards that the programs are designed to reduce or eliminate.

OSHA reported that, based on a nationwide review of inspection histories that demonstrated that many significant hazards have been identified at establishments in the 5015 SIC and 432140 NAICS codes, LEPs were activated in Philadelphia’s Region III and in Syracuse, New York’s Region II to reduce the hazards and exposures at automotive recycling facilities.

Some individual auto recyclers in those areas have recently been notified of this program via letter – the contents of which encourage the recyclers to follow OSHA guidelines and be prepared for possible on-site inspections. Indeed some of the automotive recyclers’ facilities in both NY and PA have just been subject to the on-site inspections.

Specifically, according to OSHA, the scrap metal being processed by the workers may contain alloys or can be coated with toxic substances. Workers cutting this scrap metal are exposed to metal fumes and gases as well as hazards from mercury, ultraviolet radiation, noise and heat. Also, OSHA states that the workers in these industries are exposed to a variety of safety hazards produced by heavy equipment operations, powered industrial trucks, cranes and moving machine parts.


In FY 2010, OSHA found 96,742 violations of OSHA’s standards and regulations in the nation’s workplaces, a 15.3% increase since FY 2006. The total number of serious and repeat violations issued increased by 22.1% and 8.1%, respectively, over the past five years. The total number of willful violations issued significantly increased by 217.1% since FY 2006 and increased by 278.8% since FY 2009.

Snapshot of OSHA Action on SIC code 5015/NAICS Code 423140 Facilities – Defined as scrap metal processing industry and motor vehicle parts – used; merchant wholesalers which also includes establishments primarily engaged in dismantling motor vehicles for the purpose of selling parts.

• Using SIC code 5015, 56 inspections occurred in 2011 in the following 21 states: AL, CA, DE, FL, GA, IL, IN, KY, MD, MN, NC, NJ, NV, NY, OH, OR, PA, SC, VA, WA and WI.

• 61 inspections occurred in 2010 in 24 states including AL, AZ, CA, GA, IA, IL, KY, MA, MI, MN, NC, NE, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OK, OR, PA, SD, VA, WA, WI and WV.

OSHA’s most comprehensive inspection program is the Site-Specific Targeting Plan (SST), which targets workplaces that have 40 or more employees and have reported the highest injury/illness rates. The targeting lists are updated every year to reflect the most recent data. Virtually all SST inspections are comprehensive visits in which the agency’s compliance officers examine all aspects of the workplace’s operations as well as the effectiveness of its safety and health efforts.

OSHA Cooperative Programs

OSHA offers the following cooperative programs under which businesses, labor groups, and other organizations can work cooperatively with the Agency to help prevent fatalities, injuries, and illnesses in the workplace.

On-site consultation and SHARP – OSHA’s On-site Consultation Program offers free and confidential advice to small and medium-sized businesses in all states across the country, with priority given to high-hazard worksites. In FY 2010, responding to requests from small employers looking to create or improve their safety and health management systems, OSHA’s On-site Consultation Program conducted over 30,000 visits to small business worksites covering over 1.5 million workers across the nation.

On-site Consultation services are separate from enforcement and do not result in penalties or citations. Consultants from state agencies or universities work with employers to identify workplace hazards, provide advice on compliance with OSHA standards, and assist in establishing safety and health management systems.

The On-site Consultation Program’s Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) recognizes small employers who operate an exemplary safety and health management system. Upon receiving SHARP recognition, OSHA exempts your worksite from OSHA programmed inspections during the period that your SHARP certification is valid.

Alliance – OSHA works with the public to promote safe and secure workplaces and to enhance worker voice in the workplace. OSHA joins with groups committed to worker safety and health, including unions, consulates, trade or professional organizations, faith- and community-based organizations, businesses, and educational institutions, to leverage resources and expertise to help ensure safe and healthy workplaces and worker rights.

Betsy Beckwith is a consultant with ARA’s Government Affairs Department.

Safety and Health Management Resources for Automotive Recycling Business

ARA University ( - Safety, Health and Compliance Training Courses
Eye Safety
Forklift Safety
Fire Safety-Construction
Personal Protective Equipment
Slips, Trips and Falls

Safety Booklet - ARA together with Wells Fargo updated its Employee Safety Booklet in late 2011.  This booklet is a quick reference guide for safe operations.

C.A.R. Manual - Safety Standards

ARA Facility Managers and Employees Guide to Environmental and Occupational Safety and Health Inspections (published in 2000)

OSHA Enforcement Inspections Online Portal - www.osha.gove/pls/imis/industry.html

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