Now may be a good time to revisit your company’s safety training. Not just for the wellbeing ofbut for the health of your business.
The reason: The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been busy in 2016, undergoing the first major overhaul of its regulations and penalties. The goal is to modernize its systems and make it easier to identify hazards at specific companies.
The new federal requirements take effect August 10, 2016.
It pays to stay safe
Penalties for safety violations are rising dramatically. After remaining the same since 1990, the ceiling for serious, other-than-serious and failure-to-abate violations increase from $7,000 to $12,471 per violation. A willful or repeat citation rises from $70,000 to $124,709.
These penalties are now tied to the Consumer Price Index, so charges will continue to increase with inflation rates. What’s more, state OSHA agencies are required to adopt maximum penalties at least as severe as the federal agency’s.
Recordkeeping guidelines have changed
Businesses that fall under OSHA requirements, such as construction companies, will be required to submit their safety data electronically. When this requirement goes into effect depends on the size of the business.
The new rules require all businesses with 250+ workers in industries covered by the recordkeeping regulation to electronically submit injury and illness information on three OSHA documents, Forms 300, 300A, and 301. When these forms are due varies.
Organizations with 20-249 employees in certain high-risk industries must electronically submit information from OSHA Form 300A. The time to file their forms also varies.
These new regulations apply mainly to non-white collar companies. Find out if your company is exempt from these new rules by visiting the OSHA website.
Retaliation rules strengthened
OSHA’s new rules outline the behavior it expects from companies if an employee reports an injury or illness due to work. Plus, OSHA may cite an employer for retaliation without an employee making this specific complaint. These rules become effective Nov. 1, 2016, and state that:
- Employers cannot discourage workers who wish to report an injury or illness.
- Companies must inform employees of their right to report work-related injuries and illnesses free from retaliation.
- A company’s procedures for reporting work-related injuries and illnesses must be reasonable and not deter or discourage employees from reporting.
- Includes existing regulations on retaliation against employees who report or have work-related injuries or illnesses.
Placing OSHA posters in break rooms and other high-traffic areas would be one easy way to meet this requirement.
According to Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, “Our new rule will ‘nudge’ employers to prevent work injuries to show investors, job seekers, customers and the public they operate safe and well-managed facilities. Access to injury data will also help OSHA better target compliance assistance and enforcement resources, and enable ‘big data’ researchers to apply their skills to making workplaces safer.”
From the buyer’s perspective
A business with solid record keeping and strong safety culture makes an attractive purchase to potential buyers.
In most cases, a focus on safety and OSHA issues is now part of standard due diligence practices. This means any violations in your company’s past need to be disclosed. You must also communicate any plans you put in place to prevent future events. This requires thorough documentation.
The importance of safety standards applies to all companies, not just those in manufacturing-related industries. Buyers of all types of businesses are concerned about post-transaction liabilities related to OSHA violations. So, take the time to update your procedures and prepare for the new OSHA requirements.
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