New OSHA Enforcement Guidance Set to Increase Penalties - Worksite Medical
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OSHA penalties serve as warnings and deterrents, intended to prevent employers from committing offenses time after time. Unfortunately, some employers become repeat OSHA offenders, and continue to ignore the rules, even after multiple citations. Now, a shifting policy regarding instance-by-instance citations aims to change that.

When employers repeated receive citations for the same infraction, or commit egregious safety violations, something more drastic must be done. Business who put profit over the safety and health of their workers must feel the entire weight of the law.

Now, in an effort to deter these types of serious offenders, OSHA has taken two bold steps to make penalties more effective.

On January 26, 2023, OSHA issued a press release concerning two major policy changes. These were aimed at making penalties more effective in preventing employers from repeatedly endangering the lives of their workers, exposing them to life-threatening hazards, or failing to comply with certain workplace safety and health requirements.

Let’s take a look at what changes they’re making, and how it could affect your business.


Related Article: Fined By OSHA? Here’s What You Need To Do Next.


A person holding a booklet which reads

Increasing Instance-By-Instance Citations


Under past regulations, instance-by-instance citations were reserved only for egregious, willful violations. But, in practice, these were rarely issued.

However, with the issuance of this new policy, instance-by-instance citations can now be issued more readily.

OSHA Regional Administrators and Area Office Directors are now authorized to cite certain types of offenses as “instance-by-instance citations“, for cases in which the agency identifies “high-gravity, serious violations of OSHA standards specific to certain conditions.

These conditions include the following:  

  • Lockout/tag-out 
  • Machine guarding 
  • Permit-required confined space 
  • Respiratory protection 
  • Falls
  • Trenching
  • Cases with other-than-serious violations specific to recordkeeping.

The new policy takes effect March 27, 2023, and covers enforcement activity in the following industries: general industry, agriculture, maritime, and construction.

The existing guidance on instance-by-instance citations are outlined in the OSHA Field Operations Manual, and CPL 02-00-080, “Handling of Cases to be Proposed for Violation-by-Violation Penalties.”


OSHA Reminds Inspectors of Additional Authority


In addition to relaxing  instance-by-instance citation rules, OSHA also issued a reminder to inspectors to use another deterrent already at their disposal.

In a similar press release, OSHA Directors were reminded of their authority to not group violations, and instead, cite them separately. In this manner, the agency can more effectively encourage employers to comply with the intent of the OSH Act.

Doug Parker, Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health, states, “This is intended to be a targeted strategy for those employers who repeatedly choose to put profits before their employees’ safety, health and wellbeing. Employers who callously view injured or sickened workers simply as a cost of doing business will face more serious consequences.”


Related Article: 5 Ways to Avoid Rising OSHA Fines


Protecting Your Workers and Business

In most cases, keeping your team safe from harm and your business in compliance requires the right safety and personal protective equipment (PPE). This can be any equipment worn to minimize exposure to elements that could cause workplace injuries and illnesses.

These injuries and illnesses may result from contact with chemical, radiological, physical, electrical, mechanical, or other workplace hazardous substances. Personal protective equipment may include items such as gloves, safety glasses and shoes, earplugs or muffs, hard hats, respirators, or coveralls, vests and full body suits

Compliance with the OSHA Personal Protection Standard could prevent hundreds of deaths and thousands of illneses annually, and keep your company free of expensive fines and lawsuits.


Key Takeaways


In addition to the recent significant increase in penalties for OSHA citations, employers are now less likely to have their citations grouped together. That means offenders may now receive more numerous – and more costly – citations.

As always, compliance with OSHA standards and rules remains your best option.


***   About Worksite Medical


In most cases, OSHA requires medical surveillance testing, and at no cost to employees. Worksite Medical makes that program easier with mobile medical testing.

We conduct on-site respirator fit tests, as well as audiometric exams, pulmonary function tests and heavy metal lab work, right on your job site. We also keep accurate, easy-to-access medical records for your convenience.

You’ll keep your employees at work, and stay ahead of OSHA inspections.