Big changes to OSHA advancing through
Congress; employers need to get ready
With all the
initiatives to toughen OSHA enforcement that have emerged in the past year, it
sometimes can be difficult to keep track of everything. But employers need to
pay especially close attention to a bill currently moving through Congress and
start to get ready for the changes it will bring if it passes - which it
appears to have a chance of doing.
introduced as a standalone measure called the "Protecting America's Workers
Act," the bill has now been merged with one that will make changes to the Mine
Safety and Health Act. That combined bill has a lot of political power because
of strong pressure to toughen mine safety enforcement after an accident in West
Virginia that took 29 lives earlier this year.
What does it
mean for employers if this "OSHA reform" passes?
and directors will be subject to criminal prosecution if the company knew
about an OSHA violation that led to serious bodily harm or death to an
employee. This suggests that company officers and directors need to insure that
there is a clear process for information about safety practices and performance
to flow up the line.
will receive added protections and it may be much more difficult to discipline
a weak performer who lodges a safety complaint. Employers need to be sure that
they fully document any disciplinary actions. (I should add that I am for
protecting workers who are being discriminated against for lodging legitimate
will no longer get an automatic stay of abatement when they are cited for a
serious, willful or repeated violation. Employers will have to make a request
to the Occupational Safety and Health Commission for the stay. And if it is
denied, a hearing on the issues must be conducted within 15 days.
A hearing on
the bill last week before the House Labor and Education Committee illustrated
the deep differences between OSHA and employer groups.
Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, testified that the increased
penalties contained in the bill were needed to give employers an incentive to
obey OSHA requirements.
On the other
hand, Jonathan Snare, representing an employer group called the Coalition of
Workplace Safety, said that the penalties would do nothing to increase
workplace safety and health.
The two also
testified about the bill's whistleblower and abatement provisions.
is a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA. He may be contacted
at (513) 317-5644 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Meanwhile, OSHA is
moving forward administratively to toughen enforcement
previous article, I said that employers need to get ready for the possible
passage of changes to the OSHA Act. But the horse has already left the barn on
other OSHA enforcement initiatives, which the agency has put into effect
company under OSHA jurisdiction should be reviewing its safety and health
program in light of the following:
- A crackdown on recordkeeping: A dramatic
increase in OSHA enforcement. For example, OSHA recently tagged Lowe's with
$110,000 in proposed penalties for continually failing to document and report
employee injuries and illnesses at two stores.
enforcement under Section 5(A)(1) along with new recordkeeping requirements.
- Contractor safety: A federal appeals court last year
upheld OSHA's authority to hold controlling employers responsible for the
safety actions of other contractors on their sites.
Penalties: OSHA has taken administrative actions to increase
penalties from an average of $1,000 per violation to $3,000 to $4,000.
Training: OSHA is instructing its inspectors to issue
"serious" citations if a "reasonable person" would conclude that safety
training has not been provided to employees in a format which they are "capable
Creation of a Severe Violators Enforcement Program. If a company is cited under this program,
which provides for increased penalties, OSHA is saying it may conduct
inspections at all of the firm's locations nationwide.
- OSHA has called for creation of an Injury and Illness Prevention Program. Companies
would be required to create safety programs that meet OSHA guidelines
If you are a CEO
or Operations Manager and have not conducted a meeting to review these issues
with staff, I encourage you to do so immediately. Like a good emergency plan, it is too late to
start the process when the emergency occurs.
Ditto if and when OSHA shows up on your doorstep.
Ask these two
If you have questions about how the changes at OSHA will affect your business, ask us.
organization pass the test of increased scrutiny today?
Do you have a
system such that the training, controls and programs in place today will
sustain themselves, allowing senior management the opportunity to monitor
safety performance as they do any other facet of the business?
Attend Jim Stanley's audio
'OSHA Contractor Crackdown'
to a federal appeals court ruling, OSHA
can now cite employers or controlling contractors for the safety violations of
subcontractors. On Tuesday, Aug. 10, FDRsafety President Jim Stanley is
offering a live audio conference on this issue in partnership with HR Hero, a leading
provider of educational material for HR professionals. Jim has long experience
with OSHA, having served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, the
number 2 job at the agency.
program, you can learn:
- Five tips for creating an effective contractor
safety program, including how to:
Conduct mock OSHA audits
Go beyond OSHA requirements to ensure your safety program passes muster,
including motivational training
How to avoid increased OSHA penalties and prepare
for the new safety enforcement push
What the"Severe Violator Enforcement Program"means
for employers and controlling contractors, including the industries mostly
likely to be targeted. He'll show you how to make sure your company isn't
viewed as an employer with "indifference" to workplace safety
This program has been
approved for 1.5 recertification credit hours
through the HR
Certification Institute. For more information about certification or
recertification, please visit the HR Certification Institute website at www.hrci.org.
The audio conference will be held Tuesday, August 10
2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Eastern
1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Central
12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Mountain
11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Pacific
How to Register:
Not able to attend this live
Order the CD recording
and HR Hero will provide audio streaming at no extra cost.
Streaming audio is available 3 days after the audio conference.
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