Because union companies, as opposed to non-union, often have larger projects and worksites that remain active over long periods of time, some union contractors suspect their sites are inspected more often by OSHA than their non-union competitors. The data do not support that suspicion.
OSHA conducted 22,362 inspections of construction worksites in 2004. About a third were the result of fatalities or complaints. Two-thirds (64%) were “programmed,” meaning they were randomly-generated from the total list of employers.
Union sites were inspected 4,051 times, 18 percent of the total.
Data is unavailable on the percentage of construction companies that employ union labor, but about 22 percent of construction workers are union members.
“Larger companies probably are more commonly union than smaller ones,” says Noel C. Borck, Management Co-Chairman of the LHSFNA and Executive Vice President of the NEA – the Association of Union Constructors, “so the percentage of union companies is probably somewhere between 15 and 20 percent. Judging by that, union sites do not appear to be inspected more often than non-union sites.”
While conducting inspections on some 22,000 worksites, OSHA issued about 33,000 citations from October, 2003, through September, 2004.
The most common inspection was for fall protection (4,870), and these produced the second most citations (5,552). The most common citation was for scaffolding (8,658).
Citations for excavations and requirements for protective systems resulted in the highest average cost ($2,748.91) per citation. Fall protection/steel erection ($2,585.09) and cranes and derricks ($2,128.04) citations had the next highest average cost.
More information on OSHA inspections is available on the OSHA website.