New guidance from OSHA will change the way that citations are issued. Starting March 25, 2023, the new policy will give area administrators and regional directors the ability to issue citations for each instance of a violation. OSHA’s previous enforcement policy allowed several “serious” or “other than serious” violations to be grouped together under a single citation. Let’s review exactly what all of this means for your business.
How Instance-by-Instance Citations Will Expand
Certain factors must be taken into consideration when issuing these citations, including:
- A willful, repeat, or failure to abate violation has been issued to the organization in the last 5 years.
- The organization has failed to report a fatality, inpatient hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye as required by 29 CFR 1904.39.
- The intended citations are connected to a fatality or catastrophe.
- If the intended recordkeeping citation is related to an injury or illness that is the result from a serious hazard.
Instance-by-instance violations can be issued per machine, location, entry, or employee, or when the violation instances can’t be stopped by a single method. For example, if three different machines were seen to be unguarded and are considered a “serious violation” the area administrator or regional director has the authority to split all three machines into three separate violations with penalty amounts at their discretion.
As a reminder, maximum penalty amounts by violation type:
- Willful or Repeat: $145,027
- Serious: $14,502
- Other than serious: $14,502
The scope of this expanded guidance is limited to high-gravity serious violations specific to:
- Machine guarding
- Respiratory protection
- Permit required confined space
- Lockout tagout
- Other-than-serious violations specific to recordkeeping
The expansion will generally apply to General Industry, Agriculture, Maritime, and Construction industries, although isn’t limited to them.
OSHA stated that instance-by-instance citations should be used to deter employers from continued violations of a standard, particularly for repeat offenders and organizations that clearly aren’t committed to protecting their workers from hazards.
What Should You Do?
Comply with all OSHA regulations and strive to keep your safety program up-to-date, employees trained, and address hazards and issues as quickly as possible whenever they arise.
Organizations that have past histories of citations should take particular note of this new guidance and review their program, training, and any other policies and procedures.