Companies invest thousands of dollars in OSHA based safety programs in terms of development time, production downtime for training, software and engineering changes. These same companies spend very little time on actually planning for an OSHA inspection. Many companies today have business contingency plans in the event of a fire or natural disaster but neglect to plan for an OSHA Inspection. Having an OSHA preparedness plan in 2017 will be vital for many organizations due to increased OSHA fines, new OSHA rules and requirements, additional focus on National Emphasis Programs and the use of the General Duty Clause.
OSHA is changing its inspection metric to add weight to complex inspections such as those involving ergonomic hazards, chemical exposures, workplace violence and inspections, which typically involve the use of the General Duty Clause. OSHA deems this new system as its resource-intensive enforcement activity and is focused on some of the most severe work place hazards. (1)
OSHA fines in 2017 are increasing as well; OSHA has decided to raise penalties by about 78 percent, resulting in a maximum fine of $124,709 for repeat or willful violations compared to the previous fine of $70,000. Fines for serious and other-than-serious violations will now have a maximum fine of $12,471, an increase from the prior fine of $7,000 for serious and other-than-serious violations. (2)
Occupational Health Hazards have always been an OSHA priority through the development of National Emphasis Programs and the requirements associated with hexavalent chromium, lead and other chemicals (8). The most recent rule change pertains to silica and includes provisions, which will significantly lower the permissible exposure limits and require employers to use engineering controls or other means to limit worker exposure. (3)
Under a new rule, employers will be required to electronically submit certain records of workplace injuries. This rule would require larger companies and what OSHA considers " high hazard employers" to submit electronic versions of their injury and illness logs. OSHA feels that the analysis of this data will allow them to use its enforcement more efficiently and some of the data will also be posted to the OSHA website. (4)