In late 2015, congress approved a budget that included a provision requiring OSHA to adjust their penalty structure for the first time in decades. The purpose was to bring OSHA penalties up to levels which reflect the current consumer price index, rather than the levels that existed 25 years ago. All OSHA penalties will increase 78% effective August 2, 2016.
Here are some tips to make sure you don’t get stuck with a big OSHA penalty:
- Make sure you have all your written programs in place. Depending on your industry and the hazards your employees face, you might be required to have written programs such as AWAIR, Right to Know, Hazard Communication (a.k.a. Haz. Comm.), Respiratory Protection, Lockout/Tagout, Confined Space Entry, and others. Any reputable safety consultant or OSHA consultant can help you identify what’s needed.
- Make sure you’re providing adequate safety training. While there is some variation, nearly all OSHA safety training requirements state that employees must be trained at their time of initial assignment, and annually thereafter. Be sure your safety training is documented with the names/titles of those who successfully completed the training, the date (don’t forget the year), name of trainer, and a brief outline of the material covered. Make sure whoever conducts your safety training is properly qualified. We always recommend using OSHA-authorized outreach trainers.
- Make a written annual safety plan. Your plan should spell out the various initiatives and efforts you plan work on over the course of the year, when you plan to work on them, and the current status of each project.
- Pay attention to what violations are most likely to be cited by OSHA. According to recent MN OSHA data, the most common violations have to do with failing to provide adequate Right to Know/Hazard Communication training, and failing to have a proper written Right to Know/Hazard Communication program or policy.
- Be sure that you can document that you’re making significant efforts to comply. OSHA inspectors want to see “signs of life” in your program.
If you have questions, be sure to contact us. Sotera Consulting is offering one free hour of phone consulting to anyone with questions about this change. Contact us today to see if you’re ready.