OSHA Citation Changes Target Employers
OSHA is cracking down on employers who put profit ahead of employee safety. In January, the administration announced that it would give directors the ability to cite certain violations instance-by-instance, instead of grouping violations. This could lead to larger fines for employers that have multiple violations. These expanded citation guidelines focus on the following activities: lockout/tagout, machine guarding, permit-required confined space, respiratory protection, falls, trenching and for cases with other-than-serious violations specific to recordkeeping.
The previous guidance on this topic only covered willful citations, but OSHA is broadening the reach to target employers who have been repeatedly cited for a specific violation, have failed to report serious incidents, or who have recordkeeping issues related to a serious hazard. The change applies to general industry, agriculture, maritime, and construction businesses.
Inspectors are now able to separate out violations to provide a greater deterrent. This can be done when the violations are judged to be “separate and distinct, or where different conduct gave rise to the violations.”
According to an OSHA press release, “The change is intended to ensure OSHA personnel are applying the full authority of the Occupational Safety and Health Act where increased citations are needed to discourage non-compliance.”
“This is intended to be a targeted strategy for those employers who repeatedly choose to put profits before their employees’ safety, health and wellbeing,” said Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker. “Employers who callously view injured or sickened workers simply as a cost of doing business will face more serious consequences.”
These changes become effective 60 days after the announcement, which was made on January 26, 2023.