The Department of Labor has just published its increases to the maximum civil penalties that can be assessed against employers by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The increases are based on annual cost-of-living adjustments and, for 2021, are relatively modest.
When an inspector from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) shows up at your workplace, know this: everything—and we mean everything—that a manager or supervisor says at any point to the inspector will bind the company and may be used against the company to support a citation.
Every presidential administration has its priorities, and President Trump’s is no different. President Trump has put his stamp on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) by stalling, delaying, or modifying Obama Administration policies (think the anti-retaliation rule and the e-file accident report regulation).
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act), employers have a right to be given the opportunity to accompany an OSHA compliance safety and health officer (CSHO) during an inspection of the workplace.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has conducted an inspection of your plant after one of your employees amputated part of his finger trying to clean around a sprocket with the machine still running. OSHA issues a serious citation to your company for a machine guarding violation.
An accident happens at your workplace, and an employee is injured. During the hectic response, incorrect information funnels its way up to the safety director or person charged with notifying OSHA of reportable injuries and accidents, and that person is told that it looks like the employee’s finger has been amputated or is admitted for in-patient hospitalization. Attempting to meet the statutory deadline, the safety director then reports to OSHA that an amputation or in-patient hospitalization has occurred.
An accident happens and an employee is seriously injured and admitted to the hospital. Not only does the company need to conduct an investigation into what happened, but it must report the injury to OSHA as well. During its own investigation, the company discovers that its manager or supervisor caused the accident by failing to lock out the machine where the employee was injured—in direct contravention to his training and company policy. The company fires the manager or supervisor for his actions.
Employers will be facing higher penalties from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“Fed-OSHA”) in 2019. On January 15, 2019, Fed-OSHA announced that it plans to increase the maximum penalty an employer can be issued for serious and other than serious citations to $13,260, and the highest amount that can be issued for repeat and willful violations to $132,598. Fed-OSHA’s announcement regarding the increases can be found here: https://www.osha.gov/penalties/2019InflationAdjustments.pdf and a chart containing all increases by the agency is below:
While it is not comparable to David Letterman’s Top 10 lists, at a recent industry gathering, OSHA announced its annual top 10 violations for fiscal year 2018 (October 1, 2017 through September 30, 2018). For those who have followed these lists in past years, there is a substantial amount of overlap but also new standards that have not made the list in the past.
At a recent national safety conference for the industry, the acting head of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) remarked that the agency is focusing on the use of peracetic acid in the poultry industry.