Safety and Health Article Archive

The New OSHA

By Bill Taylor, CSP

On June 29, 2009, while addressing the American Society of Safety Engineers’ 2009 Professional Development Conference, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and Acting Assistant Secretary, Jordan Barab, made it clear to all those present that they plan on serious changes to enforcement activities. Both speeches confirmed what safety and health professionals across the country have anticipated since the November elections.

It was made clear that it is no longer business as usual at OSHA but instead, the agency is returning to the days of strong, aggressive enforcement with little tolerance for bad actors.

Among the highlights mentioned by Solis and Barab:

  • An aggressive OSHA plan which includes many goals similar to those promoted by organized labor;
  • More than 150 new inspectors will be hired in fiscal 2010;
  • A 10 per cent increase in OSHA’s budget, including a significant increase ($25.5 million) for enforcement versus less than $1 million increase for compliance assistance;
  • The number of annual inspections is to increase from 38,000 nationwide to possibly 44,000. It was made clear the plan includes more enforcement and less voluntary protection focus.
  • Penalties are to be increased.
  • New standards in the works include: diacetyl flavoring (popcorn lung), combustible dust explosion protection, cranes and derricks, confined spaces in construction, and rewriting the hazard communication standard.
  • New standards planned include ergonomics and maintaining workplace safety and health programs.
  • Little future support for VPP;
  • During inspections, OSHA plans to take a closer look at the effectiveness or more to the point, the possibility that incentive programs will bring pressure to workers not to report injuries and illnesses. 
  • There will be a special emphasis program on safety and recordkeeping accuracy within the chemical industry.

It was announced there will be a special initiative in construction within the state of Texas, adding additional inspectors to form what was referred to by Secretary Solis as SWAT teams. Source: ISHN, July 8, 2009

Now would be a good time to consider a simulated wall-to-wall OSHA inspection. CTJ Safety Associates have been helping employers across the country improve OSHA compliance and protect workers with our inspections and audits services. Our consultants are experts in OSHA compliance and bring a new set of eyes to identify hazards so employers can make necessary corrections before workers are injured and/or OSHA issues citations with large penalties. Contact David, Bill, or Jim today and set up a simulated inspection or program audit to protect your workers and prevent or minimize OSHA penalties.


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