Each year, OSHA continues to review and revise its rules and regulations to better address the biggest issues going on in the world of labor. Therefore, it should also be important for you to follow along with these updates in order to ensure that your employees are safe, your programs are updated, and that you are safe in the event of an OSHA audit. Following what happens in OSHA can also allow you to become aware of issues that your own facility may face that you were previously unaware of.
Some of the major issues that may prove relevant to you that were either mentioned in the latter half of 2022 or have already been mentioned in 2023 include:
- Department of Labor Budget Changes
- Increased Penalties and “Instance-by-Instance” Citations
- Updated National Emphasis Programs (Combustible Dust)
- Recordkeeping Changes
BUDGET CHANGES: President Biden has requested that the Department of Labor’s budget this year increase by approximately 400 million dollars, with a large portion being used to increase OSHA’s enforcement capabilities.
INCREASED PENALTIES AND “INSTANCE-BY-INSTANCE” CITATIONS: OSHA increases the civil penalty amounts each year in order to maintain the effectiveness of penalties. This amount is tied directly to inflation over the previous year. This year, OSHA’s maximum penalties for serious and other-than-serious violations will increase to $15,625 from $14,502 while the maximum penalties for willful or repeated violations will increase to $156,259 from $145,027. These fees went into effect on January 17, 2023. Additionally, OSHA now has the authority to cite certain violations on an instance-by-instance basis rather than grouping violations as a means for discouraging non-compliance. Some categories of non-compliance this could include are lockout/tagout, machine guarding, permit-required confined space, respiratory protection, falls, and cases related to recordkeeping. While this rule is intended for employers who repeatedly choose to put profits before employee safety, the rule can apply to any facility in general industry, agriculture, maritime, and construction. This rule goes into effect on March 27, 2023.
UPDATED NATIONAL EMPHASIS PROGRAMS (COMBUSTIBLE DUST): OSHA routinely releases National Emphasis Programs (NEPs) which indicate what industries or issues the agency will focus on enforcing. Examples of other, previously issued NEPs, include Heat (2022) and Coronavirus (2021). OSHA had previously released an NEP regarding Combustible Dusts in 2007, which indicated that OSHA would inspect facilities likely to generate or handle combustible dusts that can cause fires, flash fires, deflagrations, and explosions. However, OSHA just released an updated version of this NEP on January 30, 2023 that modifies what industries are the focus of combustible dust inspections. Industries that have been removed from the focus group include Cookie and Cracker Manufacturing, Blind and Shade Manufacturing, and Pharmaceutical Preparation Manufacturing. Industries that have been added to the focus group include Commercial Bakeries; Cut Stock, Resawing Lumber, and Planing; Leather Tanning and Finishing; and Truss Manufacturing. To see the full update to the NEP, including the full list of industries removed and added to the focus group, please visit the following link: https://www.osha.gov/sites/default/files/enforcement/directives/CPL_03-00-008.pdf
RECORDKEEPING CHANGES: OSHA issued a proposed rule change last year regarding electronic tracking of the OSHA Injury Records. The changes would require companies with 100 or more employees in certain industries to electronically submit their OSHA Forms 300, 301, and 300A once per year. Companies with 20 or more employees in certain industries would still be required to submit their OSHA Form 300A annual summary. Employers with 250 or more employees that are not in certain industries would no longer be required to submit their OSHA Form 300A to OSHA online. OSHA was accepting comments on this proposed rule change up until June 30, 2022. Note that these changes have not yet been implemented, so you may still be required to submit your OSHA Forms. OSHA has provided an online tool that can be used to determine if you are required to submit an OSHA Form 300A online that you can find here: https://www.osha.gov/itareportapp.
If you need assistance with ensuring you are in compliance with all OSHA requirements, please contact CTI at (770) 263-6330.