Federal OSHA increased its maximum penalties last summer for the first time since 1990. The increase occurred pursuant to a new law requiring federal agencies to adjust penalties to account for inflation. However, the OSH Act, which specifically provides the maximum penalties Fed-OSHA can administer, was not amended. It still prevents Fed-OSHA from issuing penalties higher than the levels set in 1990.
Earlier this year, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to approve the Midnight Rules Relief Act by a vote of 238-184. This Republican-backed measure would amend the Congressional Review Act and allow Congress to overturn, en masse, any federal regulation enacted during the final year of a president’s term. If approved by the Senate and signed into law, the Act could have broad implications for any regulation passed in 2016, including, among many other workplace law regulations, the recordkeeping rule issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and its related anti-retaliation provisions.
A recent rash of attacks on Uber and Lyft drivers raises questions regarding the safety of these gig economy workers. Drivers must often work under dangerous circumstances, including chauffeuring complete strangers, many of whom are intoxicated and thus need a designated driver, to unfamiliar destinations at all times of the day and night.
We’re all scrambling for any hint of impending OSHA changes, but are limited largely to speculation because we do not yet have a new Secretary of Labor or an Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA. Career OSHA management at the DC, Regional and Area Office level simply advise that “it’s business as usual.”