U.S Department of labor to enforce penalties on exposure of worker to hazard
The U.S. Department of Labor announced that OSHA issued new enforcement guidance to make its 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.
OSHA Regional Administrators and Area Office Directors now have the authority to cite certain types of violations as “instance-by-instance citations” for cases where the agency identifies “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 lockout/tagout, machine guarding, permit-required confined space, respiratory protection, falls, trenching, and for cases with other-than-serious violations specific to record keeping.
The change is intended to ensure OSHA personnel are applying the full authority of the OSH Act, where increased citations are needed to discourage non-compliance. The new guidance covers enforcement activity in general industry, agriculture, maritime, and construction industries, and becomes effective 60 days from Jan. 26, 2023. The current policy has been in place since 1990 and applies only to egregious willful citations. In a second action, OSHA is reminding its Regional Administrators and Area Directors of their authority not to group violations, and, instead, cite them separately to more effectively encourage employers to comply with the intent of the OSH Act.
These changes in enforcement guidance are important enforcement tools to help deter employers from disregarding their responsibilities to protect workers and ensure compliance with OSHA standards and regulations.