Civil Penalty Amounts Adjusted, Increased
Last week, adjustments made by the U.S. Department of Labor to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s civil penalty amounts went into effect.
Based on cost-of-living adjustments for 2023, the adjustments are mandated by the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Improvements Act, which was passed in 1990 and was amended in 2015 to advance the effectiveness of civil monetary penalties and to maintain their deterrent effect.
As a result, the Act calls on agencies to publish “catch-up” rules that properly adjust the level of civil monetary penalties and make subsequent annual adjustments for inflation no later than January 15 of each year.
This year, however, Jan. 15 fell on a Sunday, with a federal holiday having followed that Monday. Therefore, the new OSHA penalty amounts went into effect on Jan. 17.
According to the Department, OSHA’s maximum penalties for serious and other-than-serious violations increased from $14,502 per violation to $15,625 per violation.
The maximum penalty for willful or repeated violations will increase from $145,027 per violation to $156,259 per violation.
Injury, Illness Reporting Reminder
At the beginning of this year, OSHA issued its annual reminder to specific employers to submit the required injury and illness date for 2022 by March 2.
Electronic submissions are required by establishments with 250 or more employees currently required to keep OSHA injury and illness records, and establishments with 20-249 employees classified in specific industries with historically high rates of occupational injuries and illnesses.
Safety Year in Review
Throughout 2022, OSHA conducted several measures with the aim of improving health and safety across the industry. In March, the Administration announced the availability of more than $3.2 million in funds to train and educate workers and employers on workplace health and safety.
According to OSHA, the funding opportunity is separate from the fiscal year 2022 Susan Harwood training grants for Targeted Topic, Training and Educational Materials Development, and Capacity Building.
The grant opportunity, which was made available through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 for Susan Harwood Workplace Safety and Health Training on Infectious Diseases, aims to help workers and employees identify and prevent work-related infectious diseases, including COVID-19.
The program sets out to support remote and in-person hands-on training for workers and employers in small businesses; industries with high injury, illness and fatality rates; and vulnerable workers, who are underserved, have limited English proficiency or are temporary workers.
To be eligible, training topics were required to focus either on COVID-19 specifically or infectious diseases broadly. The maximum awarded for each grant was $160,000 for a 12-month performance period. Successful applicants may receive an FY 2021 and/or FY 2022 Harwood training grant and a Workplace Safety and Health Training on Infectious Diseases, Including COVID-19 grant in the same year.
In April, just weeks after the 2021 injury and illness reports by specific employers were due, OSHA published a new proposed rule aimed at improving the process. Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses was published on March 30, 2022.
According to OSHA, if adopted, the new rule would require:
Additionally, establishments with 250 or more employees, not in designated high-hazard industries, would no longer be required to electronically submit recordkeeping information to OSHA.
Through electronic submission of establishment-specific and case-specific information outlined in Forms 300 and 301, OSHA will be better equipped to utilize its resources more effectively, according to the Agency.
The comment period for the proposed rule has closed. Read the proposed rule and the comments submitted by members of the public including workers and worker groups, affected industries, and other interested parties. In addition, you may examine all supporting materials for the proposed rule on this site.
Several months later, in September, the DOL announced that it was expanding the criteria for placement in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP).
According to Doug Parker, Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health, at the time, the changes were meant to strengthen enforcement and improve compliance with workplace safety standards and reduce worker injuries and illnesses. The updated program specifically focuses on employers who repeatedly disregard workers’ health and safety.
New criteria for the SVEP now includes violations of all hazards and OSHA standards. The program is also continuing to focus on repeat offenders in all industries. Specifically, it includes the following:
The updated program instruction replaces the 2010 instruction and will remain in effect until canceled or superseded.
Most recently, in December, OSHA revealed its annual top 10 most frequently cited workplace safety standards for fiscal year 2022. The list was presented exclusively with the National Safety Council during the 2022 NSC Safety Congress & Expo.
Fall Protection – General Requirements remained at the top of the list for the 12th year in a row, followed by Hazard Communication and Respiratory Protection. OSHA’s fiscal year officially ended on Sept. 30, 2022.
The Top 10 most frequently cited standards for FY 2022 are: