New enforcement guidance aims to prevent worker injuries and fatalities and hold employers who place profit over safety accountable.
Changes in enforcement guidance announced by the Department of Labor’s OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) early this year are designed to save lives, improve safety for workers and hold employers who place profit over safety accountable for their actions.
On January 26, an OSHA press release revealed that employers who repeatedly expose workers to life-threatening hazards or fail to comply with workplace and safety requirements will be subject to increased penalties.
While the current policy, in place since 1990, invokes citations only for “egregious willful” violations, when the new guidelines take effect “instance-by-instance” citations (known as IBI citations) may be invoked for “high-gravity” serious violations of OSHA standards – in other words, the failing need not be willful or egregious to merit a citation. These conditions include lockout/tagout, machine guarding, permit-required confined space, respiratory protection, falls, trenching and less serious violations pertaining to recordkeeping. The changes will take effect 60 days after the issuance, or on March 27, 2023 (according to Occupational Health & Safety Magazine). The guidance covers enforcement in general industry, agriculture, maritime and construction industries.
US Department of Labor Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker. (IMAGE: OSHA)
Separate, not grouped violations
A second related action asks OSHA regional administrators and area directors to stop grouping violations together. To more effectively deter non-compliance, separate citations may be served for each violation – more citations adds to more penalties and greater costs to negligent employers.
US Department of Labor Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker is quoted in the release with saying that the changes target an employer who simply “doesn’t get it.” Says Parker, “Employers who callously view injured or sickened workers simply as a cost of doing business will face more serious consequences.”
The Department of Labor has also announced increased OSHA civil penalty amounts based on cost-of-living adjustments. Under a 2015 legislation requiring agencies to adjust for inflation each year, OSHA penalty amounts increased from $14,502 to $15,625 per violation for serious and other-than-serious violations on January 17, 2023. The maximum penalty for willful or repeated violations went up from $145,027 to $156,259 per violation.
OSHA Injury Tracking Application
OSHA reminds employers to submit their 2022 OSHA Form 300A (Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses) data by March 2, 2023.
Who is required to submit Form 300A data?
Establishments with 250 or more employees that are required to keep OSHA injury and illness records.
Establishments with 20 to 249 employees in designated industries (including construction)
Establishments under Federal OSHA jurisdiction can use the ITA Coverage Application to determine if they are required to electronically report their injury and illness information to OSHA. Establishments under State Plan jurisdiction should contact their State Plan.
How to submit Form 300A data:
The Injury Tracking Application transitioned its login procedure to Login.gov. Current and new account holders need to create a Login.gov account to submit their 2022 injury and illness data. Detailed guidance on how to carry out this change is available as a job aid and video. 🀰