Office of Audit
THE INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE
HAS A PROCESS TO RESPOND TO WORKPLACE INJURIES,
BUT SOME IMPROVEMENTS COULD BE MADE
Final Report issued on July 14, 2016
Highlights of Reference Number: 2016-10-048 to the Internal Revenue Service Chief, Agency-Wide Shared Services.
IMPACT ON TAXPAYERS
Each year, the IRS responds to more than 800 new workplace injury claims. Providing a safe workplace is an important part of ensuring efficient use of each employee’s time. In addition, IRS resources are affected by paying workers’ compensation claims.
WHY TIGTA DID THE AUDIT
The overall objective of this review was to determine whether the IRS has an effective process to respond to and prevent workplace injuries and improve workplace safety.
WHAT TIGTA FOUND
The IRS’s process for responding to and preventing workplace injuries was generally effective, but improvements can be made. TIGTA found the majority of injuries reviewed were due to slips, trips, and falls, and it appeared that most employees had accidents in which there was little the IRS could have done to prevent the injury. Through data analysis of all Fiscal Years 2013 through 2015 injury claims, TIGTA did not identify any significant trends of injuries reoccurring at certain geographic locations, by job series, or by employees teleworking at their residence.
In addition, TIGTA physically observed locations at IRS facilities which represented more than 20 percent of injury claims that were made from Fiscal Years 2013 through 2015 and found that most injuries were caused by accidents that could not be prevented, and issues that contributed to preventable injuries had been remedied. Specifically, as part of a judgmental sample of 349 claims, TIGTA physically observed locations where 253 injuries occurred. TIGTA determined that only 13 hazards had not been addressed and could potentially affect other employees.
However, TIGTA found that 123 (35 percent) of the 349 claims did not include any information about whether a safety investigation was performed, as required, after employees were injured. Also, safety officers were not always notified when an injury had occurred. In these instances, it was not apparent what actions safety officers took to resolve hazards because that information was not documented on the IRS’s workers’ compensation database.
TIGTA also determined that for 369 (65 percent) of 564 IRS buildings, there was no documentation of a safety inspection in at least one year during Fiscal Years 2013 through 2015. Annual safety inspections are required by Federal law and are designed to review a variety of building features to ensure that they are in working order, including lighting, walkways, elevators, shipping and receiving areas, parking lots, and exit doors.
WHAT TIGTA RECOMMENDED
TIGTA recommended that the IRS should: 1) address the two hazards identified during site visits; 2) determine whether guidance should be revised to reinforce the need for safety officers to perform and document safety investigations after an employee has been injured; 3) identify a way to notify safety officers when an employee has filed a workers’ compensation claim; and 4) ensure that safety inspections are performed annually as required.
In their response, IRS management agreed with all four recommendations and plans to develop and implement the corrective actions detailed in their attached response.
READ THE FULL REPORT
To view the report, including the scope, methodology, and full IRS response, go to:
Phone Number / 202-622-6500
E-mail Address / TIGTACommunications@tigta.treas.gov
Website / https://www.treasury.gov/tigta