AIHA advice for OSHA includes stiffening fines

By: June 22nd, 2012 Email This Post Print This Post

The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) has released a white paper which highlights the emerging roles and issues facing OSHA.

“Perspective on the Role of OSHA in Advancing Occupational Safety and Health for the Nation” makes 17 recommendations addressing OSHAs current approach and opportunities for improved effectiveness in key areas enumerated in the agency’s strategic plan and the 2011–2016 strategic plan, including f the Department of Labor (DOL), including the modification of OSHA penalties.

AIHA calls the current maximum penalty structure—$70,000 per violation for willful or repeat violations, $7,000 per day for failure to abate hazards, and $7,000 per violation for other violations—”woefully inadequate” compared to fines from other regulatory agencies. For example, employer fines for breaking environmental laws can be as high as $25,000 a day.  Also, OSHA’s maximum criminal penalty for a willful violation leading to the death of a worker is six months compared to 15 years in jail for the serious violation of environmental laws.

“AIHA supports amending OSHA criminal penalties so that they are at least as stringent as penalties for violations of environmental laws.” according to the white paper.

Other recommendations include:

  • Having primary authority for all safety and health issues in workplaces that the agency regulates
  • Reforming the standard-setting process
  • Applying standards to all workers, including municipal, state and federal
  • Promoting occupational safety and health programs for small and medium-sized employers
  • The continuation of the general duty clause to enforce employer responsibility to provide safe and healthful working conditions.
  • Updating the Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs)

Comments

On the other hand, maybe environmental regulations and fines are too extreme. Using PEL’s is good. I’d say these are incredibly broad and far-reaching recommendations; might take a decade to reform the standard-setting process, right? Lauren

By Bruce Cunha on June 26th, 2012 at 8:57 am

With the amount of rwgulatory creap going on (one agency overlapping into areas of others); it will be interesting to see where this goes. CMS is currently the driving agency for Healthcare. They have added health and safey issues into requirments.

Increasing fines? How about starting by assisting a company to correct paperwork issues instead of fining for the small stuff.

Life-threatening safety issues such as trenching violations? Hit the company with as big a fine as you can.

By Cheryl Christensen on June 26th, 2012 at 12:12 pm

Seems to me they should be making more of an effort to help small employers get it right. Severe fines once warned & not corrected would be just as effective and more fair.

 

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