Worried that staffing levels, response times and frequency of health and safety inspections have all fallen in Hawaii, Federal OSHA is threatening to retake inspection and enforcement functions from the state’s Department of Labor, which has been in charge for the past 25 years.

In that quarter-century span, workplace inspections have reportedly tumbled 90 percent while the number of inspectors has fallen from 27 to 12.

A federal audit found that, in two out of nine workplace safety complaints classified as imminent danger, the state took more than one day to get an inspector to the site.

A spokesman said those incidents were on Lanai and Molokai where the state has no inspectors stationed. 

Ryan Markham, who’s been the state labor department spokesman for the past two years, took over the state’s occupational safety and health division in August. Markham indicated that travel arrangements have been beefed up and that he is hiring two additional inspectors.

"I think we’re fortunate that accidents and fatalities have not increased," he said. "I think part of that is due to our efforts and also to employers understanding that safety is an issue that affects their bottom line."

All this indicates that the current administration is serious about proactively enforcing health and safety codes throughout the nation. Employers, ensure your compliance with all Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations by visiting Personnel Concepts’ Web section on OSHA Programs and Kits and stocking up on the items you need.