We saw more OSHA changes in 2015 than in any time in the last 30 odd years. Nevertheless, an OSHA Administrative Judge issued a decision a few weeks ago that could eclipse OSHA’s 2015 pronouncements on temporary employees, ergonomics and inspection weighing process. The judge ruled that OSHA can seek abatement measures beyond the site inspected. In other words, OSHA can attempt to require an employer to abate hazards allegedly present at worksites it never inspected.
In October, OSHA announced an Emphasis Program on poultry processing in Regions IV and VI in states with Federal OSHA programs. Region IV Federal OSHA states are Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi. The Region VI Federal OSHA states are Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas, plus employers in New Mexico who come under the Federal-OSHA and not the State Plan. State Plans such as North and South Carolina OSHA are encouraged to follow the Federal programs.
OSHA recently surprised us with the announcement it had authority to increase penalties for the first time since 1990. Given this development, we expect OSHA to increase the maximum fine for serious citations to $12,500 and willful/repeat citations to $125,000 in August 2016. Additional increases reflecting inflation likely will follow on January 15 of each subsequent year.
One would think that we are all desensitized to these terrible workplace shootings, but I find myself wrestling with the “whys” and “what to do next” following the San Bernardino mass murder. We’ll write and post more on the subject of workplace violence and active shooters, but one point stuck out to me in the early coverage.