OSHA Changes to Watch for in 2016

Thursday, January 21, 2016Robert Layman

2016 looks to be a busy time for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), as it attempts to finalize significant rulemakings and guidance documents. As Rolyn’s Director of Safety, it is of the utmost importance that I stay on top of these rules and regulations. Here are the top OSHA changes to look out for in 2016:

OSHA Penalties are Going Up
After years of lobbying from OSHA to increase the penalty amounts, Congress passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, which President Obama signed into law on Nov. 2, 2015. The Act requires OSHA to increase its civil penalties for the first time since 1990.

What does that mean for 2016? Under the act, a one-time “Catch up Adjustment” will occur in 2016 and yearly increases based on the Consumer Price Index will occur each year after that. The increased penalty adjustment must come into effect by Aug. 1, 2016. With increased penalty amounts comes increased financial risk and liability for each OSHA violation found.

Silica Rule
OSHA indicated that next month the “Final Rule for the Occupational Exposure to Crystalline Silica” is expected to be published. It is not clear what the final rule will look like, but it is expected to focus on these key areas: exposure monitoring and assessment; regulated areas/access control plans; engineering and administrative controls; work clothing and respiratory protection; medical surveillance; and hazard communication and training.

The Silica Rule will likely be enforceable within 90 to 180 days after it becomes final. At Rolyn, we have already begun planning for the possible changes that could occur.

Recordkeeping and Disincentive Policies Final Rule
The Agency’s “Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses” rule is expected to be final in March 2016. These regulations are anticipated to add new electronic reporting obligations to most employers that are required to keep OSHA 300 Logs.

In particular, OSHA will require employers with more than 250 employees to submit their OSHA 300 Logs to the agency on a quarterly basis. Employers with 20 employees or more at any time in the previous calendar year will be required to electronically submit to OSHA on a yearly basis the information provided on OSHA Form 300A.

OSHA would, in turn, post the OSHA 300 Logs and 300A Forms on its website and make the information publicly available to anyone who would like to review them. OSHA believes that publicly posting such information will encourage employers to implement safer work practices and give the public.

Any employer safety program deemed to discourage employee reporting of injuries and illnesses is subject to OSHA citations.

Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines will be Issued
OSHA is seeking public comment on its updated voluntary Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines (OSHA-2015-0018) by Feb. 15, 2016. The guidelines have been updated to reflect modern technology and practices, as well as incorporate approaches taken in two OSHA programs: the Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) and Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP).

OSHA considers the guidelines to be a proactive approach to safety, with a focus on finding and fixing hazards before they can cause injury or illness. The guidelines are divided into seven color-code core elements that every safety program should incorporate. Each core element contains action items and ways to accomplish the following:

-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 Worksites

Everyone needs to keep an eye out for these and other regulatory changes in 2016. Rolyn values its employees’ health and safety by continuously staying abreast of the most up-to-date OSHA guidelines.

About the Author

Robert Layman
Director of Safety

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