In an effort to improve accountability among employers who repeatedly violate workplace safety and health regulations, the U.S. Department of Labor announced Thursday that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration will change the way it cites companies to ensure better compliance.
OSHA says its administrators will now have the authority to cite certain types of violations as “instance-by-instance citations” for cases where the agency identifies “high seriousness” serious violations of OSHA standards that are specific to certain conditions where the rule language supports one citation for each instance of non-compliance.
The agency said in a statement that it also discourages its administrators from grouping violations, “and instead cite them separately to more effectively encourage employers to comply.”;
“Smart, effective enforcement means using every tool available to us when an employer ‘doesn’t get it’ and will only respond to further deterrence in the form of increased citations and penalties,” said Doug Parker, Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health health. in a statement. “This is intended to be a targeted strategy for those employers who time and again choose to put profits before the safety, health and well-being of their employees. Employers who emotionally view injured or ill workers simply as a cost of doing business will face more serious consequences.”
The conditions that apply to the enhanced enforcement actions include lockout/tagout, machinery guarding, permit-required confined spaces, respiratory protection, falls, digging, and for cases of non-serious recordkeeping-specific violations.
“The amendment is intended to ensure that OSHA personnel apply the full authority of the Occupational Safety and Health Act where expanded citations are needed to address noncompliance,” the department said.
The new guidance covers enforcement activities in general industry, agriculture, shipping and the construction sector and will come into force 60 days from 26 January 2023. The current policy has been in place since 1990 and only applies to gross willful citations.