OR-OSHA Removing Immediate Abatement Credits

The agency said this change, among several proposed adjustments to its penalty structure that are set for Dec. 2 and Dec. 7 public hearings, would remove what could be seen as a reward for doing what is already required.

Oregon OSHA will discuss several proposed changes in its penalty structure and procedures at public hearings in Eugene on Dec. 2 and Portland on Dec. 7. The agency intends to adopt six changes by the end of 2011 and have them take effect early in 2012, pending comments at the hearings; most of them would raise the penalties assessed against employers for violations.

The six are:

  • Increasing the difference between penalties against small and large employers, as a way of motivating large ones, according to the agency
  • A lower base penalty would be available in recognition of an employer's efforts prior to the inspection
  • Ending the current penalty reduction given to employers who immediately abate violations; OR-OSHA says this change "takes into account that correction of a violation is already an employer obligation and should take place without the incentive of a penalty reduction"
  • Reducing the 35 percent penalty reduction given to employers with better-than-average history of injuries and illnesses to 10 percent
  • Raising the base penalty amounts for death violations
  • Clarifying that a repeat violation must be a second violation that is substantially similar to the previously cited one

The reduction for employers with better-than-average injury and illness histories "would eliminate the distortion created by relatively large penalty adjustments on the basis of relatively small statistical variations in injury and illness rates," according to the agency's announcement of the hearings.

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