Exempt from penalty increases due to inflation since the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will be raising the cost of citations for the first time in a quarter century.
The Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1990 was a measure to reduce the United State budget deficit, which, in turn, was the last time OSHA carried out a penalty increase. Now, the new budget recently approved by President Obama, allows a provision for OSHA to catch up with inflation for the past 25 years. Inflation in that time is estimated to be around 80%, which could equate to 80% increases in OSHA penalties for contractors. The final decision will have to be made no later than August 1st, 2016 according to the amendment, so it’s not necessarily final that all penalties will jump up the full 80%.
That’s not the end of the increases, however. The very next section in the budget allows OSHA the ability to raise their penalties every year, but the maximum increase cannot exceed the determined inflation percentage. The current maximum penalty from OSHA is $7,000 for serious violations, but can jump to $70,000 for repeated or willful violations. An 80% increase in those amounts would jump those to $12,600 and $126,000, respectively. Those numbers don’t sound that high, but if OSHA is coming to your job site for a reason, they probably aren’t going to only find one infraction.
OSHA fines to increase significantly | Safety and Health Magazine
Last November, OSHA issued a final rule that would finally allow them to enforce language, which has been in their standards since 2010, requiring construction crane operators to be formally qualified to operate the equipment. The first day of enforcement for that rule had been set for November 10, 2018, but the agency has recently proposed a new rule that would pull back some of the initial requirements.
Finding enough labor to complete jobs has been a problem for many companies in the construction industry over the past few years. Amid a construction “boom” in many areas, general and subcontractors are accepting jobs without enough people to work them, so some have turned to hiring “subs of subs” to supplement their work, a report published by The Tennessean says.
In March, OSHA announced that they would be enforcing their previously delayed beryllium exposure limit for the construction industry on May 11, 2018. The agency has recently confirmed that enforcement date in a memorandum on May 9, 2018.
OSHA newer and more stringent regulations regarding employee’s exposure to respirable crystalline silica officially went into effect on September 23, 2017. The new reduced the permissible exposure limit of the substance, which is found mostly in products containing sand (like concrete, mortar, and brick), from 250 micrograms per cubic meter of air down to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air averaged over an 8 hour shift.
For the third time in a year, construction workers have had to be rescued while dangling mid-air by fire rescue teams in Southern Florida. Last year, there were two incidents in Sarasota, Florida that involved failed suspended scaffolding in as many months. Just last week, another incident in Palmetto Bay required the Fire Department to intervene.
The construction industry has never been one to freely share information without charging a fee. That’s changed slightly recently, with some major players willing to provide useful tools and information to help us become better. For instance, we recently shared that Procore has released hundreds of free continuing education courses on their education platform. Another useful site we’ve found recently has shared dozens of toolbox talks to help your team on the jobsite learn about safety.
[guest post] The reality is that construction workers, who already face hundreds of hazards just by working in the industry, are also often at risk for becoming injured or ill due to contact with wildlife.
It should be obvious that formal safety training is extremely important to running a successful safety program on any construction site. The most common route for construction employers to train their staff is through OSHA 10 and OSHA 30 courses, but, in the past, it was pretty confusing to determine who was actually authorized to teach the courses and where to find them.
[guest post] Spring is here and before we know it, summer will follow. In both seasons, weather conditions can present dangers to construction workers. Without education and preparation, workers may find that they are seriously ill or injured during work.
Crane collapses on construction jobsites are usually pretty terrifying, especially when the jobsite is full of workers. A construction site in St. Petersburg, Florida got extremely lucky when a large construction crane collapsed and narrowly missed several running workers.