Archive for the ‘Enforcement’ Category

OSHA Penalty Reduction Audit

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Inspector General has announced its audit targets for 2010. On the list, “Impact of OSHA’s Penalty Reductions.”

OSHA’s penalty structure is designed to provide companies with an incentive to correct violations. Reductions in fines can come from several sources. An inspector can recommend discounts to the original fine amount. OSHA supervisors, including area directors, regional administrators and Department of Labor attorneys can further reduce the size of a penalty, which are often significantly less than statutory maximums.

Cal OSHA Fines Bimbo Bakery Where Workers Lost Limbs

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016

Bimbo Bakery logo
California occupational safety officials have issued one of their agency’s largest group of fines ever, $230,535 to Bimbo Bakeries for failing to fix safety violations that led to amputation of workers’ limbs.

Cal OSHA officials said that 20 alleged violations were documented at three factories belonging to the company, which produces brands that include Oroweat and Entenmann’s baked goods.

The food factories are in South San Francisco, Escondido and Montebello.

Hexavalent Chromium Notification Mandates for Excess Exposure

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

hexavalent chromium In response to a court order, OSHA has amended its February 28, 2006, final rule on occupational exposure to hexavalent chromium (Cr(VI)) by requiring that employers notify employees of the results of all Cr(VI) exposure determinations.

As originally promulgated, the Cr(VI) rule required employers to notify affected employees of any determinations indicating exposures in excess of the permissible exposure limit (PEL). The employer could satisfy this requirement either by posting the determination results in a location accessible to all affected employees or by notifying each affected employee in writing of the results.


Aerosol Transmissible Diseases Citations at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center

Friday, September 23rd, 2016

The handling of a patient with bacterial meningitis landed an Alta Bates Summit Medical Center employee and an Oakland police officer in intensive care and prompted California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) to issue citations to three employers, including willful allegations against Alta Bates.

The citations, issued April 19, were the first issued under Cal/OSHA’s Aerosol Transmissible Diseases (ATD) standard, which took effect last summer. DOSH issued citations to Alta Bates, and the Oakland Police and Fire departments, and is investigating possible meningitis exposure to ambulance drivers employed by American Medical Response.

Severe Violator Enforcement Program Targets Unsafe Employers

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

OSHA to zero in on repeat violators

To reduce on-the-job fatalities, the government is launching an enforcement program to target repeat safety offenders and increase penalties.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced that beginning this summer it will focus its enforcement efforts on employers with previous violations, including those that fail to fix identified problems. It will also conduct follow-up investigations and inspect the other work sites of violators to find similar hazards.

OSHA has dubbed the move the “Severe Violator Enforcement Program.”

OSHA Hearing Protector Labeling

Sunday, March 6th, 2016

National Hearing Conservation Association logo 40CFR211 Subpart B, Hearing Protector Labeling

40CFR211 Subpart B, Hearing Protector Labeling Exposure to high levels of noise is one of the most prevalent occupational hazards faced by American workers, with an estimated 22 million noise‐exposed workers in the U.S. Consequently, noise‐induced hearing loss (NIHL) resulting from excessive noise exposure is one of the most common occupational diseases in the U.S.


California Landfill Wins OSHA Voluntary Protection Programs Star Status

Tuesday, January 5th, 2016

The certification by Cal/OSHA and federal OSHA followed a three-year safety project at the Clean Harbors facility.

Clean Harbors, a Norwell, Mass.-based operator of more than 50 waste management facilities in North America and others located in Bulgaria, China, Sweden, Singapore, Thailand, and the United Kingdom, announced that its Buttonwillow, Calif. landfill has achieved OSHA Voluntary Protection Programs Star status. The certification followed a three-year safety project by Clean Harbors that was directed by a committee of employees at the 320-acre facility.

The company said VPP, Cal/OSHA, and Clean Harbors representatives conducted inspections and made additional recommendations during the project. “VPP certification is a rigorous process that was driven by our volunteer employee committee. All of our employees, as well as our contractors, were committed and participated in the process,” said Clean Harbors Buttonwillow General Manager Marianna Buoni. “The certification process was a natural extension to our traditional focus on health and safety in all of our operations. The VPP designation testifies to our safety culture and our commitment to provide a healthy work environment, now and in the future.”

The Buttonwillow Class One landfill accepts hazardous waste, including federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) waste and materials that fall under California hazardous waste regulations.

3M 8000 Respirator Recall From Cal OSHA

Tuesday, September 1st, 2015

News report about the recall of 3M 8000 respirators made reference to the “8000 series respirator.” That term has triggered a deluge of questions to Cal/OSHA about whether other 3M respirators are affected by the recall, which was ordered when health-care employers reported an unacceptably high failure rate during fit tests.

Only the 8000 series are affected on the State Respirator Recall. For instance, Craig Brown, senior industrial hygienist for the VHA Center for Engineering & Occupational Safety and Health in Pittsburgh, Pa., notes that there are several sub-series of the 3M 8000 N95 respirators with different face molds, such as 8210, 8211, 8511, 8612, 8670 and more. These are not affected by the recall.

The only respirators that have been recalled are the model 8000, says DOSH Senior Safety Engineer Deborah Gold. “Other 8000 series N95 respirators are not affected by the alert,” she says.

OSHA Hires 130 New Workplace Inspectors

Thursday, July 16th, 2015

OSHA Steps Up the Pace with new hiring plans.

The federal agency has announced a number of regulatory priorities, including a request to hire 130 more OSHA inspectors. With states increasing their enforcement activities as well, HR leaders should ensure documentation and safety procedures are up to date. A safety audit could help locate deficiencies, experts say.

This year will be no time for slacking on the workplace-safety front, as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration continues an enforcement policy that’s far more activist than during the Bush administration.

The Obama administration is seeking an additional $50 million from Congress to finance the hiring of 130 additional OSHA inspectors. Meanwhile, the agency has announced a number of regulatory priorities that include initiatives to protect workers from exposure to airborne diseases such as severe acute respiratory syndrome, updated regulations for crane and derrick safety, and updated rules for protecting workers from exposure to crystalline silica dust.

OSHA also plans to develop a comprehensive standard that addresses combustible dust, which was responsible for a 2008 explosion at an Imperial Sugar refinery in Georgia that killed 14 workers.

Some of the initiatives, particularly the proposed combustible-dust standard, are opposed by industry groups. Organizations such as the National Association of Manufacturers contend that a combustible-dust standard is unnecessary because existing OSHA regulations are sufficient.

Ashley Brightwell, a labor and employment attorney at Alston & Bird in Atlanta who closely follows OSHA, says the Obama administration wants OSHA to become more aggressive.

“There was a perception that a lot of employers didn’t take OSHA seriously in terms of enforcement and standard-setting,” she says. “OSHA came under a lot of criticism that it was too lenient.”

The agency’s recent actions may already be changing that perception, including the record-setting $87 million fine it levied against BP last October for what it said was the company’s failure to correct hazards that led to an explosion at its Texas City, Texas, refinery killing 15 employees.

Among other activities, OSHA is also putting together a special training program for its compliance officers to focus on employers that report low injury rates in high-injury rate industries and is re-evaluating its policies, concerned that current fines and penalties are too low, says Brightwell.

Labor groups such as the AFL-CIO have long complained that the punishments levied against employers for safety violations are insufficient. Bills have been introduced in the U.S. House and Senate that would amend the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (the law that created OSHA) to substantially increase the penalties for violations.

OSHA is also becoming increasingly reluctant to bargain with employers over the violations, she says.

“In the past, employers have often been successful in getting ‘willful violations’ downgraded to ‘unclassified,’ which makes the settlement much more palatable for the employer,” says Brightwell, because fines are usually reduced and criminal charges are not filed.
“But OSHA has gone on record as saying that from now on, unclassified violations will be granted much less frequently than in the past,” she says.

Greg Dale, a partner at Baker & Daniels in Indianapolis, says state safety agencies are also stepping up their enforcement activities due, at least in part, to federal pressure.

“There’s been quite an increase in compliance enforcement and less focus on cooperative programs between safety agencies and employers,” he says.

Considering that stepped-up enforcement by OSHA and its state counterparts will be a fact of life for the foreseeable future, Dale advises HR leaders to ensure their organizations’ safety and training records are updated regularly. HR leaders should also require periodic reviews of safety processes as well as safety audits.

“Having a mock OSHA inspection, in which an outside safety consultant comes in and reviews their operations, will ensure companies get an independent viewpoint on their safety processes,” he says.

Brightwell agrees that HR would be wise to prepare for stepped-up OSHA inspections.

In addition, HR should ensure that key employees understand the importance of updating required documentation and know who to call should an OSHA inspector have additional questions.

“Make sure your employees are prepared for when those compliance officers walk through the door,” she says. “Lots of employers don’t think about OSHA until they’re actually there.”

Details About OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program

Sunday, April 6th, 2014

OSHA announced a Severe Violator Enforcement Program today that will be in effect in 45 days and also said it is administratively raising the dollar value of its penalties, suggesting it would raise them higher still if it could.

“The current maximum penalty for a serious violation, one capable of causing death or serious physical harm, is only $7,000 and the maximum penalty for a willful violation is $70,000. The average penalty for a serious violation will increase from about $1,000 to an average $3,000 to $4,000,” OSHA’s news release stated. “Monetary penalties for violations of the OSHA Act have been increased only once in 40 years despite inflation. (more…)