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OSHA Inspections Likely To Get Tougher In Future!
There have been rumblings from a number of sources that OSHA is going to be more aggressive in the near future. This trend is likely to continue under the present democratic administration, both at the state and federal level. Unlike possible reforms proposed for healthcare, increased safety enforcement is seen as improving employee safety and actually increases revenue for state and federal governments. Upper level management of the federal OSHA has stated that it will review all state run programs to determine if any are not meeting the standards required by the federal OSHA. Don’t be surprised to see legislation, rule making, or greater or stronger enforcement of the following items in the next year or two:

Greater use of “willful” violation citations. “Willful” doesn’t require that you actually know it was a violation; rather if you “should have known” will be sufficient for citation;

Enforcement of the new crane and hoist standards;

Stronger enforcement of the new lead paint standards and requirements;

Increased penalty amounts for serious, repeat and willful violations,

Increased use of criminal sanctions for willful and other violations;

Hiring of additional compliance inspectors,

Stepped up inspections in the more risky areas of work such as construction, mining, utilities, crane and derrick, blasting, electrical, trenching, chemical, roofing, medical and others where the risk of injury or death is higher;

Standard changes and shortened review times for proposed standards;

More numerous citations as a result of inspections; and

More frequent use of the General Duty clause. The General Duty Clause simply states that the employer is required to provide a workplace free of hazards. It is used when there is not a specific standard governing a perceived hazard to employees.

We recommend that the employer do the following in the face of a more aggressive OSHA: Have a through safety plan and review it regularly, inspect your place of work frequently; familiarize yourself regarding standards which address issues your employees are likely to face; train and document the training of all employees, especially new employees; when possible have a trained and designated person to accompany an inspector during an inspection; train employees what do when there is an inspection; have a written graduated standard of enforcement and punishment for employees that violate standards and enforce it before you have an OSHA inspection; and document your enforcement of safety rules.

If you have any questions regarding OSHA or need assistance with a citation, then please contact Andy Anderson, Attorney at Anderson Jones, PLLC at 919-277-2541 or by email!

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