‘Employers Who Put Profit Over Safety’ May See More Penalties with OSHA’s New Enforcement Guidance

‘Employers Who Put Profit Over Safety’ May See More Penalties with OSHA’s New Enforcement Guidance

The guidance, announced in late January, will take effect on March 27.

OSHA’s new enforcement guidance may lead to higher penalties for some employers.

But according to an OSHA news release, there’s a purpose behind the change: “to save lives [and] target employers who put profit over safety.”

Starting on March 27, 2023, some additional violations may now be cited as instance-by-instance citations (IBI), OSHA announced in a memorandum on January 26. (The policy previously pertained only to willful citations.) The new changes apply to the general, agriculture, maritime and construction industries when “‘high-gravity’ serious violations” are found in the following conditions:

  • Lockout/tagout
  • Machine guarding
  • Permit-required confined space
  • Respiratory protection
  • Falls
  • Trenching
  • Other-than-serious violations specific to recordkeeping

Another policy available to Regional Administrators and Area Directors is discretion, according to a second memorandum published on January 26. “…the agency may refrain from grouping violations where there is evidence that worksite conditions giving rise to the violations are separate and distinct, or where different conduct gave rise to the violations,” the memorandum stated.

"Smart, impactful enforcement means using all the tools available to us when an employer ‘doesn’t get it’ and will respond to only additional deterrence in the form of increased citations and penalties," explained Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker in the news release. "This is intended to be a targeted strategy for those employers who repeatedly choose to put profits before their employees’ safety, health and wellbeing. Employers who callously view injured or sickened workers simply as a cost of doing business will face more serious consequences."

To learn more about policies, read OSHA’s Field Operations Manual.

About the Author

Alex Saurman is the Content Editor for Occupational Health & Safety.

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