Imagine this scenario: Your facility is inspected by state or federal OSHA. The agency issues citations. Your company decides to appeal. Should you be required to correct the hazards while the case is under appeal?
Washington state companies face a new regulation from the Dept. of Labor and Industries (L&I) that would require businesses to correct serious safety violations during the appeals process.
Gov. Chris Gregoire (D) signed the bill into law on April 18. L&I is required to enact new regulations to fulfill the terms of the new law.
Legislators said hundreds of workplace hazards across Washington are left uncorrected each year while companies appeal citations. Workers are then exposed to these hazards. The appeals process can take months or even years. About 10% of all L&I safety citations are appealed each year.
Violations must be characterized as serious, willful, repeat or “failure to abate” for the provisions of the new law to kick in.
Employers can seek a stay to the requirement. However, stays may not be granted if preliminary evidence shows “it is more likely than not that a stay would result in death or serious physical harm to a worker.”
Under federal OSHA, contesting a citation suspends a company’s legal obligation to abate the hazard until the challenge has been resolved.
What do you think of Washington’s new law? Should other states and federal OSHA adopt it? Let us know what you think in the Comments Box below.