Helping to Control Your Liabilities as OSHA Increases Enforcement Activities
This year is shaping up to be busy for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). After recording the lowest number of federal OSHA inspections in 2020, OSHA is on pace to meet or exceed inspection numbers from before the pandemic. OSHA has been actively working to ensure they protect worker health and safety using a host of measures. In a press release, Doug Parker, the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, said “smart, impactful enforcement means using all the tools available to us when an employer ‘doesn’t get it’ and will respond to only additional deterrence in the form of increased citations and penalties.”
However, OSHA’s renewed focus and new enforcement activities can affect every employer in the United States, not just those that “don’t get it.” For example, OSHA announced that annual adjustments to OSHA civil penalties would take effect on January 17, 2023, increasing serious and other citations to $15,625, and the maximum penalty for willful or repeat violations to $156,259. These increases may already be having an impact; there have been 69 enforcement cases with initial penalties at or above $100,000 in 2023.
In addition to increased penalties, OSHA has other strategies to ensure effective enforcement. These strategies include giving “instance by instance” citations to allow for increased civil penalties to discourage non-compliance and updating the qualifying criteria for the Severe Violator Enforcement Program. OSHA has also introduced multiple National Emphasis Programs (NEPs), Regional Emphasis Programs (REPs), and Local Emphasis Programs (LEPs); emphasis programs are temporary programs and enforcement strategies that allow OSHA to focus resources on specific high hazards.
To learn more about OSHA’s current enforcement activities, how these activities may impact you, and how Roux’s group of Health & Safety Compliance professionals can assist you to control your hazards and compliance liabilities through services such as health & safety audits, please contact us below.