U.S. OSHA Increasing Enforcement PenaltiesMay 2nd, 2010 | By John Petkovsek | Category: Health and Safety
On April 22, 2010, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a memorandum outlining administrative enhancements to its penalty policies. The administrative enhancements, which will become effective over the next several months, will likely increase the number of violations cited by OSHA and the dollar amount of the penalties. (http://www.osha.gov/dep/penalty-change-memo.pdf)
OSHA evaluated its penalty policies and determined that the penalties were too low to have an adequate deterrent effect. Among other things, the new policies
- expanded the timeframe for identifying historic violations
- provided enhanced consideration of repeat violations
- allowed officials to separate related high-gravity serious violations for enforcement (as opposed to the current practice of grouping related violations) and
- modified the amounts and the formula used to calculate penalties.
As a result of the changes, OSHA expects a three- to four-fold increase in the average value of a penalty. A heightened focus on the citation history of the employer may either increase or decrease potential penalties. The review window for repeat violations was increased to five years, and repeat violations will receive higher penalties, typically a ten-fold increase. The new policy also promotes escalating citations to “severe” and “willful,” which typically results in a ten-fold increase in penalties and requires other facilities owned by the same company to receive inspections, with follow-up audits also mandated.
About the Author
John Petkovsek is the Director, Environmental, Health & Safety, for The Lincoln Electric Company in Euclid, Ohio, U.S.A.
Image: Detail of Black Background 2 by Jana Kollarova, Zilina, Vlcince, Slovakia.