OSHA now has a new, powerful weapon in its arsenal to hit companies hard for PPE and training violations when a new rule takes effect.
Starting Jan. 12, 2009, OSHA can issue per-employee citations for those types of violations.
While OSHA says it intends to use these new measures only in egregious cases, the standard doesn’t spell that out specifically.
The agency is relying on a directive to its inspectors to determine when per-employee citations will be made, but directives can change without going through the formal rulemaking process.
What will this mean financially to companies who have some workers who don’t always wear their PPE?
The multiplication factor is the number of employees.
In the case that sparked this rulemaking, an employer hired 11 undocumented Mexican workers to handle asbestos without providing each a respirator.
OSHA wanted to issue 11 separate citations, but a court consolidated them into one.
Under the new rule, the fine would have been 11 times as much.
All sorts of employers are affected by this. OSHA amends PPE and training standards for:
- general industry (Part 1910)
- shipyards (Part 1915)
- marine terminals (Part 1917)
- longshoring (Part 1918), and
- construction (Part 1926).
For now, OSHA claims it will rely upon its guidance document, Handling of Cases To Be Proposed for Violation-By-Violation Penalties.
That document says cases under consideration for per-employee fines must be classified as willful and meet at least one of these requirements:
- Violation resulted in worker fatalities, a worksite catastrophe or a large number of injuries or illnesses
- Violations resulted in persistently high rates of worker injuries or illnesses
- Employer has an extensive history of prior OSHA violations
- Employer has intentionally disregarded its OSHA responsibilities
- Employer’s conduct taken as a whole amounts to clear bad faith in the performance of its OSHA duties, or
- Employer has committed a large number of violations that significantly undermine the effectiveness of any OSHA safety or health program that might be in place.