The Department of Labor and OSHA announced an update to its online enforcement database that includes a number of new features to make visible and transparent its inspection and violation data. The interactive map is a technological leap for the department and allows visitors to easily look up the individual inspection records and enforcement histories of specific companies.
Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis said, "These improvements to our online enforcement database are part of our commitment to open, transparent enforcement. By making this information available and easy to use, we're helping to ensure a level playing field for employers who follow the law."
Conversely, the map also makes it easy to see which companies are in violation – a move that could tarnish the image of those companies targeted by OSHA.
There are a number of additional features, like a search function that allows you to look up violations by agency, state, and violation type. There are also a number of interactive graphs and charts that highlight inspection types, penalties, and violations by industry. For instance, you can quickly see, by running your mouse over one chart, that between July 17 and August 16 of this year, 12% of inspections were the result of referrals or that $1.9 million in penalties has been assessed.
At the bottom of the page, the website has done a nice job integrating social media with links to the DOL’s Facebook, Twitter and YouTube spaces.
What does it all mean? One, it looks like OSHA is making some progress technologically, which would suggest its plans and ability to execute initiatives like electronic recordkeeping is much further along than some had thought. Two, the cost to companies that find themselves in violation has just gone up. In addition to fines and other corrective actions, those companies will now face greater public scrutiny as this information finds its way to the people that reside in the communities where those companies do business.