Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents
• Standard Number: 1903

March 12, 1997

Mr. Jordan Barab
Assistant Director
Health and Safety Department of Research
and Collective Bargaining Service
1625 L Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036-5687

Dear Mr. Barab:

This is in response to your letter of January 22. You requested clarification of OSHA's investigative policy for occupational fatalities associated with violence. You also expressed concern that OSHA does not automatically inspect such workplace fatalities.

OSHA shares your concern about the increasing prevalence of workplace violence and has endeavored through the production of guidelines to address the problem. As you are aware, this is an emerging issue for OSHA and we are still in the process of making policy determinations with respect to enforcement. The prevailing policy with respect to determination of inspection scheduling is to allow the Area Directors of each area office to exercise their best judgment as to the effective use of OSHA resources. The Field Inspection Reference Manual (FIRM) which replaced the Field Operations Manual (FOM) in 1994 states: "Effective and efficient use of resources requires careful, flexible planning. In this way, the overall goal of hazard abatement and worker protection is best served." (OSHA Instruction CPL 2.103, p. I-3)

Fatality/catastrophe investigations are second only to imminent danger situations in the general order of priority for assignment of staff resources for inspection categories under the FIRM. Nevertheless, the FIRM specifically provides that deviations from this priority list are allowed so long as they are justifiable, lead to efficient use of resources, and contrib