Happy New Year! A New Year means increased maximum penalties for OSHA citations. As of January 16, 2021, the maximum penalties for serious, other-than-serious and posting requirements is now $13,653 per violation; $13,653 per day for failure to abate; and $136,532 for willful or repeat violations.
It is also a good time to remind covered employers to electronically submit Form 300A data for the calendar year 2020 between January 2, 2021, and March 2, 2021. A paper copy of the 300A form must also be posted for each establishment from February 1 through April 30.
As we get closer to the new administration, many expect OSHA to implement emergency COVID regulations, something Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia has repeatedly stated is unnecessary. The requirements of such expected emergency regulations are an open issue but good bets would include formalizing much of OSHA’s current COVID-19 guidance such as social distancing, employee communication, and implementing engineering controls. Less certain is whether such emergency regulations will address vaccinations.
Conventional thinking also suggests that employers will see more aggressive OSHA enforcement particularly in the area of COVID-19 inspections. Accordingly, employers may wish to revisit their safety and health policies and procedures in anticipation of increased enforcement. Although OSHA generally does not post the top ten violations for the preceding year until the first week in April, history would suggest the following violations will make the list in some order: Fall Protection; Hazard Communication; Scaffolding; Control of Hazardous Energy; Respiratory Protection; Ladders; Power Industrial Trucks; Machinery and Machine Guarding; and Eye and Face Protection. Of course, 2020 presented many surprises for us so time will tell if the list remains consistent.
Hope everyone has a great and safe year!