Some OSHA standards require self-audits, but many companies voluntarily go through the process in order to assure compliance with federal and state regulations. OSHA has used those voluntary self-audits as a way to focus inspection activity and identify hazards but, under a proposed new policy statement, that practice would stop. However, the agency says it may exercise its authority to obtain portions of self-audit reports if investigators suspect a specific safety or health hazard exists.
Under the proposed new policy, self-audits could work in favor of a company that is making "good faith" efforts to correct problems. If an inspector finds a problem that the employer has already uncovered in a self-audit -- and is taking actions to correct -- the self-audit will be treated as evidence of "good faith," not evidence of a willful violation. Federal rules allow up to a 25% penalty reduction for employers who have implemented a safety and health program, including self-audits, and are making a "good faith" effort to correct cited violations.
OHSA has asked for comments on the proposed policy statement, published Oct. 6 in the Federal Register available at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs/aces/aces140.html.