OSHA Invigorates Compliance Enforcement Efforts

  • Published
  • 30 January 2023
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  • News

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued new guidance giving its enforcement officers the authority to cite certain types of violations as instance-by-instance citations for serious, high-gravity violations of OSHA standards. The guidance applies to certain conditions involving lockout/tagout, machine guarding, permit-required confined space, respiratory protection, falls and trenching, and to other-than-serious recordkeeping violations.

The change is intended to ensure OSHA personnel apply the full authority of the Occupational Safety and Health Act where increased citations are needed to discourage non-compliance. The guidance, which covers enforcement activities in general industry, agriculture, maritime and construction industries, will go into effect 60 days after Jan. 26, 2023. The current policy has been in place since 1990 and applies only to egregious willful citations.

In a related action, OSHA has reminded enforcement officers of their authority not to group violations, and instead cite them separately. “Smart, impactful enforcement means using all the tools available to us when an employer ‘doesn’t get it’ and will respond to only additional deterrence in the form of increased citations and penalties,” said Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker.

Guidance on instance-by-instance citations are outlined in the OSHA Field Operations Manual and CPL 02-00-080  on “Handling of Cases to be Proposed for Violation-by-Violation Penalties.”