US Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis announced a new Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) initiative that will focus enforcement efforts on repeat offenders and increase civil penalty amounts for violations.
The Severe Violator Enforcement Program, scheduled to become effective by June 5, will increase the number of OSHA inspections on jobsites where OSHA deems there are “recalcitrant employers who endanger workers by demonstrating their indifference to their responsibilities under the law.” In addition, it will include mandatory follow-up inspections on these jobsites and inspections on worksites run by the same employer where similar hazards might exist.
OSHA defines “recalcitrant employers” as those who have violations that qualify as willful, repeated or failure to abate and that result in a fatality, expose employees to highly hazardous chemicals, or that involve “high-emphasis” hazards. Examples of high-emphasis hazards are fall hazards in construction and other industries; amputation hazards; lead hazards and excavation hazards, among others.
In addition to targeting severe violators with increased inspections, OSHA is making changes to its penalty calculations systems. Under the new penalty system, the average fine for a serious violation would increase from $1,000 to between $3,000 and $4,000. In addition, the time frame for considering an employer’s history of violations in the cost of the fine will grow from 3 years to 5 years. The penalty increases will take place over the next several months.
For more information, view OSHA’s news release Here.