Compliance is such an important part of a safety manager’s position, but it’s only one piece of the puzzle. Day-today responsibilities make it difficult to stay on top of changing regulations and ensure all workers are aware of those changes.
Early each year, it’s common for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to review the previous year and make changes for the year ahead. We’ve done some digging and found the top 5 changes in OSHA regulations you should know for 2016:
1. Increasing OSHA penalty amounts
The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, signed into law on Nov. 2, 2015, requires OSHA to increase civil penalties for the first time since 1990. A one-time “Catch Up Adjustment” will occur in 2016, with yearly increases each year after that. The increased penalty amount will go into effect by Aug. 1, 2016.
What you need to know: Once in place, the ceiling for a serious or other-than-serious citation will increase from $7,000 to $12,600. Repeat citations are expected to jump from $70,000 to $127,000. Employers should expect fine increases by Jan. 15 of each year. The law caps the fine increase at 150 percent.
2. Silica Rule
The Final Rule for the Occupational Exposure to Crystalline Silica is expected to be issued in February 2016. While the final rule hasn’t been made public, it is expected to cover:
- Exposure Monitoring and Assessment
- Regulated Areas or Access Control Plan
- Engineering Administrative Controls
- Protective Work Clothing and Respiratory Protection
- Medical Surveillance
- Hazard Communication and Training
What you need to know: This rule is expected to become enforceable 60 to 90 days after being finalized. Employers—especially in exposure monitoring, engineering and administrative controls and medical surveillance—should start preparing because these will require working with third parties.
This rule change could have the largest impact because it is not industry-specific. It is expected to be finalized in March 2016. OSHA will then require employers with more than 250 employees to submit their OSHA 300 logs quarterly for review. Employees with 20 or more logs at any time during the previous year will have to submit to OSHA on a yearly basis the information from form 300A.
What you need to know: These logs will be posted on OSHA’s website as public information. This is meant to provide information on safety and encourage safe business practices.
4. Safety and Health Management Guidelines
OSHA has updated its safety and health management guidelines to reflect modern technology and guidelines. The agency is seeking public comment on the changes, which must be received by Feb. 15. The guidelines focus on how to find and fix hazards before injury or illness can result. The guidelines are composed of seven core elements every safety program should have. They include:
- Management Leadership
- Worker Participation
- Hazard Identification and Assessment
- Hazard Prevention and Control
- Education and Training
- Program Evaluation and Improvement
- Coordination and Communication on Multi-Employer Websites
What you need to know: OSHA often requires employers to follow these guidelines when working to settle citations, even though they are voluntary. Employers should become familiar with the guidelines and take them into consideration when improving their safety and health strategies.
5. OSHA Regulatory Agenda Items
On Nov. 20, 2015, OSHA published its semi-annual regulatory agenda, which includes 31 actions. The following could have an impact on the construction industry:
- Preventing Back-Over Injuries and Fatalities
- Chemical Management and Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs)
- Updating OSHA Standards Based on National Consensus Standards Eye and Face Protection
- Quantitative Fit Testing Protocol: Amendment to the Final Rule on Respiratory Protection
- Amendments to the Cranes and Derricks in Construction Standard
What you need to know: OSHA officials will be looking to make the most out of the Obama administration’s last year in office. Be on the lookout for these and other regulatory changes, as they could have the power to impact changes in coming years.
This is quickly becoming a big year for change in OSHA regulations. Keep in mind that these regulations can still be revised because they are not yet final. Make sure to stay up-to-date on any current changes that could impact your company on OSHA’s website.
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