OSHA Announces Plan to Strengthen Compliance
On January 26, 2023, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced an expansion of how they apply citations for serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act). The goal of this new guidance, which takes effect on March 27, is to increase enforcement and strengthen compliance to help prevent workplace injuries and fatalities in general industry, agriculture, maritime and construction industries. OSHA has also broadened the list of situations that may result in instance-by-instance citations to include lockout/tagout, machine guarding, permit-required confined space, respiratory protection, falls and trenching.
OSHA regional administrators and area office directors will gain the authority to bring instance-by-instance citations for some violations of OSHA standards, instead of grouping them together. It will apply to high-gravity serious violations, i.e., situations involving death or permanent, irreversible injury or illness. In 1990, OSHA adopted guidance for imposing penalties for each instance of willful violation of record-keeping regulations, safety and health standards, or the OSH Act’s General Duty Clause, which requires employers to provide a workplace free of serious hazards. The updated guidance says a decision to use instance-by-instance citations should be based on one or more of these factors:
- Employer has had willful or repeat violations or failed to fix a violation within the last five years.
- Employer has failed to report a fatality, inpatient hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye.
- Proposed citations are related to a fatality/catastrophe.
- Proposed record-keeping citations are related to injuries or illnesses that occurred because of a serious hazard.
Instance-by-instance citations may be given when the different violations cannot be fixed by a single method. Grouping violations together may be appropriate when the same measures can correct multiple violations or when substantially similar actions or conditions caused the violations.
More information on OSHA’s announcement can be found HERE.