O&MM Fabricator - July/August 2016 - (Page 37)

OSHA to Sharply Increase Fines Time to Become a Safety Expert LINDA ERBELE owners, the thought of a visit from the Occupational, Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is one of the last things on their minds. In the last decade or so, for those who have had such a visit that resulted in a penalty, in many cases, for those who have been visited and cited, the relatively low amount of the penalty has almost been considered a cost of business. OSHA has not increased its fines since 1990. On the other hand, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, signed by President Obama in November, requires that OSHA catch up to the 21st Century by increasing fines based on the percentage that the Consumer Price Index, which has increased since October 1990. That means an approximately 80 percent increase in fines. The Act requires OSHA to publish the adjusted penalties by July 1, 2016. The new rates will become effective no later than August 1. The differences are dramatic. In the past, the penalty for a serious violation was $7,000. A repeat or willful violation was $70,000. An 80 percent increase brings those penalties to $12,600 and $126,000, respectively. Note that those fines are per occurrence, not per company. In addition, the Budget Act requires OSHA to make an annual adjustment to its penalties, based on inflationary increases to the Consumer Price Index every October. They will publish these adjusted penalties by January 15 each year. The next increase will be published January 2017. "OSHA is really relying on these enhanced penalty provisions as an aid to enforcement," says Valerie Butera, a member of the labor and employment group at Epstein Becker Green, a national law firm with a focus on employment, labor and workforce management. FOR MANY SMALL BUSINESS What Should a Business Do? * Ensure that your employees are safe. Re-evaluate all your safety practices and the workplace. "People don't want to think about this," Butera says. But health and safety standards may well have changed since your employees were trained. For example, the Hazard Communication Standard, which involves the classification of chemicals and hazard information on labels and safety data sheets, was updated as recently as 2012. "Hazcom is frequently cited, so be sure that is up-to-date," she adds. * Employees should know what to do if a compliance officer comes to the door. Employees should not only be trained, but be able to show they have an understanding of that training. "Every case I've had has involved some kind of training citation," Butera says. "If OSHA walks in, employees need to demonstrate that they were trained and could demonstrate that training of whatever safety practices are relative to their job." Simply going over safety with employees is not enough. You need to be able to prove that they understand it. "Document everything and keep it," Butera says. "One way to beat a training citation is to have a comprehensive quiz at the end of the training. In some companies, employees have to re-take the test until they get 100 percent." That way, even if an employee is tonguetied or shy in front of a compliance officer, an employer can prove that the employee does understand the practice. * Consider bringing in a professional to evaluate your practices and training. Butera points out that if you use a law firm for this kind of analysis, the records of it are protected by attorney-client privilege. * Understand that OSHA differentiates between a violation and a willful or repeat violation. * Don't assume OSHA is after you. July/August 2016 * O&MM Fabricator | 37 INDUSTRY NEWS WHAT'SHOT?

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of O&MM Fabricator - July/August 2016

PRESIDENT’S LETTER
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
NOMMA Network
Supplier Members
NOMMA Education Foundation
NEW RULES TO IMPACT THE LEASE/BUY DECISION
HOW TO HIRE THE RIGHT PERSON - AND STAY OUT OF TROUBLE WHILE YOU’RE DOING IT
New NOMMA Members, Iron Club Members & Rust Free Club Members
Industry News
Media
Products
METAL MOMENT
Index of Advertisers

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