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)