OSHA announced Jan. 26 that it’s making enforcement guidance changes that are meant to “target employers who put profit over safety.”
The agency states that it “seeks to hold employers to greater account for safety and health failures.”
OSHA’s new enforcement guidance is meant to make penalties more effective in stopping employers from repeatedly exposing workers to life-threatening hazards or failing to comply with certain workplace safety and health requirements.
Directors have authority to make ‘instance-by-instance citations’
The agency’s regional administrators and area office directors have been granted new authority to cite certain kinds of violations as “instance-by-instance citations” for high-gravity serious violations “of OSHA standards specific to certain conditions where the language of the rule supports a citation for each instance of non-compliance.”
These conditions include:
- machine guarding
- permit-required confined space
- respiratory protection
- trenching, and
- cases with other-than-serious violations specific to recordkeeping.
This change was made with the intention to ensure OSHA personnel are applying their full authority in cases where increased citations are needed to discourage non-compliance.
The new enforcement guidance applies to general industry, agriculture, maritime and construction industries, and becomes effective 60 days from Jan. 26, 2023.
‘Callous employers will face more serious consequences’
OSHA also issued a reminder in the new guidance that its regional administrators and area directors have the authority to cite violations separately instead of grouping them.
Citing violations separately more effectively encourages employers to comply with the intent of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the agency states.
“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.”