“Workplace Injuries By The Numbers – Every 7 Seconds A Worker Is Injured On The Job”

Nearly 13,000 American workers are injured each day. These numbers are staggering, and the worst part is that each one is preventable. Taking preventative action can spare workers needless pain and suffering.

Journey to Safety Excellence
Provided by the National Safety Council

“OSHA Penalties To Be Adjusted For Inflation After August 1, 2016”

qt-usdol-seal_original

Maximum penalties for OSHA violations are set to increase for the first time since 1990 as part of overall federal penalty adjustments mandated by Congress last year. The increases were announced Thursday by the Department of Labor, which issued two interim rules covering penalty adjustments for several DOL agencies, including OSHA, the Mine Safety and Health Administration and Wage and Hour Division.

OSHA’s new penalty levels will take effect after Aug. 1, when the maximum penalty for serious violations will rise from $7,000 to $12,471. The maximum penalty for willful or repeated violations will increase from $70,000 to $124,709. Any citations issued by OSHA after Aug. 1 will be subject to the new penalties if the related violations occurred after November 2, 2015. OSHA will provide guidance to field staff on the implementation of the new penalties by Aug. 1.

OSHA Penalty Adjustments to Take Effect August 2016

In November 2015, Congress enacted legislation requiring federal agencies to adjust their civil penalties to account for inflation. The Department of Labor is adjusting penalties for its agencies, including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

OSHA’s maximum penalties, which were last adjusted in 1990, will increase by 78%. Going forward, the agency will continue to adjust its penalties for inflation each year based on the Consumer Price Index.

The new penalties will take effect after August 1, 2016.  Any citations issued by OSHA after that date will be subject to the new penalties if the related violations occurred after November 2, 2015.

Type of Violation  Current Maximum Penalty New Maximum Penalty
Serious
Other-Than-Serious
Posting Requirements
$7,000 per violation $12,471 per violation
Failure to Abate $7,000 per day beyond the abatement date $12,471 per day beyond the abatement date
Willful or Repeated $70,000 per violation $124,709 per violation

Adjustments to Penalties

To provide guidance to field staff on the implementation of the new penalties, OSHA will issue revisions to its Field Operations Manual by August 1. To address the impact of these penalty increases on smaller businesses, OSHA will continue to provide penalty reductions based on the size of the employer and other factors.

State Plan States

States that operate their own Occupational Safety and Health Plans are required to adopt maximum penalty levels that are at least as effective as Federal OSHA’s.

For More Assistance

OSHA offers a variety of options for employers looking for compliance assistance.

The On-site Consultation Program provides professional, high-quality, individualized assistance to small businesses at no cost.

OSHA also has compliance assistance specialists in most of our 85 Area Offices across the nation who provide robust outreach and education programs for employers and workers.

For more information, please contact the Regional or Area Office nearest you.

U.S. Department of Labor | June 30, 2016

US Department of Labor announces new rules to adjust civil penalty amounts

WASHINGTON – In 2015, Congress passed the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act to advance the effectiveness of civil monetary penalties and to maintain their deterrent effect. The new law directs agencies to adjust their penalties for inflation each year using a much more straightforward method than previously available, and requires agencies to publish “catch up” rules this summer to make up for lost time since the last adjustments.

As a result, the U.S. Department of Labor announced today two interim final rules to adjust its penalties for inflation based on the last time each penalty was increased.

“Civil penalties should be a credible deterrent that influences behavior far and wide,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “Adjusting our penalties to keep pace with the cost of living can lead to significant benefits for workers and can level the playing field responsible employers who should not have to compete with those who don’t follow the law.”

The first rule will cover the vast majority of penalties assessed by the department’s Employee Benefits Security Administration, Mine Safety and Health Administration, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs, and Wage and Hour Division. The second rule will be issued jointly with the Department of Homeland Security to adjust penalties associated with the H-2B temporary guest worker program.

Under the 2015 law, agencies are directed to publish interim final rules by July 1, 2016. The department will accept public comments for 45 days to inform the publication of any final rule.

The new method will adjust penalties for inflation, though the amount of the increase is capped at 150 percent of the existing penalty amount. The baseline is the last increase other than for inflation. The new civil penalty amounts are applicable only to civil penalties assessed after Aug. 1, 2016, whose associated violations occurred after Nov. 2, 2015.

The rules published under the 2015 law will modernize some penalties that have long lost ground to inflation:

  • OSHA’s maximum penalties, which have not been raised since 1990, will increase by 78 percent. The top penalty for serious violations will rise from $7,000 to $12,471. The maximum penalty for willful or repeated violations will increase from $70,000 to $124,709.
  • OWCP’s penalty for failure to report termination of payments made under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, has only increased $10 since 1927, and will rise from $110 to $275.
  • WHD’s penalty for willful violations of the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act will increase from $1,100 to $1,894.

A Fact Sheet on the Labor Department’s interim rule is available here. A list of each agency’s individual penalty adjustments is available here.

# # #

Media Contact:

Amy Louviere, 202-693-9423, louviere.amy@dol.gov

Release Number: 16-1380-NAT


U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The department’s Reasonable Accommodation Resource Center converts departmental information and documents into alternative formats, which include Braille and large print. For alternative format requests, please contact the department at (202) 693-7828 (voice) or (800) 877-8339 (federal relay).

“OSHA Electronic Recordkeeping Final Rule Places New Requirements On Employers”

On May 12, 2016, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published a long-awaited final rule requiring certain employers to electronically submit injury and illness data, providing for such data to be made publicly available, and updating employee notification and antiretaliation provisions.

Background

OSHA is charged with enforcing the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act), which applies to virtually all private employers. OSHA, either directly or through states with parallel agencies to which OSHA defers rulemaking and enforcement, requires almost all employers to prepare and maintain routine records of certain work injuries and illnesses (“recordable” incidents). These records include a report for each recordable incident (Form 301), a log of such incidents (Form 300), and an annual summary (Form 300A) that must be completed and posted even if no recordable incidents occurred during the year.

Previously, OSHA could obtain the establishment-specific injury and illness data contained in these routine records only in three limited ways: (1) workplace inspections, (2) surveys to employers under the OSHA Data Initiative, and (3) mandatory employer reporting of certain workplace illnesses and injuries, including fatalities.

The final rule greatly expands OSHA’s access to this information by requiring certain employers to regularly and electronically submit data from their routine records. Specifically, the rule requires the following:

  • Establishments with 250 or more employees that are required to keep routine records must electronically submit required information from all three records annually (no later than March 2 of the year after the calendar year covered by the form).
  • Establishments with 20 to 249 employees in certain industries must electronically submit required information from Form 300A annually (no later than March 2 of the year after the calendar year covered by the form).
  • Establishments must electronically submit requested information from their routine records upon notification from OSHA

OSHA plans to phase in implementation of the data collection system beginning July 2017. By March 2019, all establishments covered under the final rule must submit all required information.

OSHA hopes the electronic submission requirements will help it use resources more effectively and encourage employers to prevent worker injuries and illnesses by allowing the agency to obtain a much larger and more timely database of the information that most employers are already required to record.

Publication of illness and injury data

Notably, OSHA will make the collected information publicly available in a searchable online database. The agency hopes that researchers and the public will also be able to use the data to identify work-related hazards and particularly hazardous industries and processes.

OSHA insists that it doesn’t intend to release personally identifiable information from reported records and that it will use “software that will search for and de-identify personally identifiable information before OSHA posts the data.” Given the frequency of media reports on the fallibility of even the most sophisticated data security systems and companies, many are understandably skeptical about the agency’s ability to safeguard employee information under this new electronic reporting system.

Employee notification and retaliation

The final rule also amends OSHA’s record-keeping regulation with respect to how employers inform employees to report work-related injuries and illnesses. This part of the rule:

  • (1)  Requires employers to inform employees of their right to report work-related injuries and illnesses free from retaliation;
  • (2)  Clarifies the existing implicit requirement that an employer’s procedure for reporting work-related injuries and illnesses be reasonable and that a procedure that would deter or discourage reporting isn’t reasonable; and
  • (3)  Prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for reporting work-related injuries or illnesses, consistent with the existing “whistleblower” provisions in Section 11(c) of the OSH Act.

The third aspect of this part of the new rule is significant because it provides OSHA with an additional enforcement tool with respect to employee retaliation. Whereas OSHA could always take action against an employer in response to an employee complaint under Section 11(c), OSHA will now be able to issue citations to employers for retaliating against employees even absent an employee complaint. The agency anticipates that feasible abatement methods will mirror the remedies under Section 11(c), which include but aren’t limited to rehiring or reinstatement with back pay. Employers can contest citations before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

OSHA explains that the final rule prohibits retaliatory adverse action against an employee “simply because” she reported a work-related injury or illness. To that end, the final rule states that nothing in it “prohibits employers from disciplining employees for violating legitimate safety rules, even if the same employee . . . was injured as a result of that violation and reported that injury or illness.” Importantly, employees who violate the same work rule must be treated similarly regardless of whether they also reported a work-related illness or injury. The final rule notes that postinjury drug-testing policies and employee safety incentive programs will be scrutinized under this provision.

States with their own occupational safety and health plans will be required to adopt identical requirements in their record-keeping and reporting regulations.

The employee notification and retaliation provisions become effective August 10, 2016. The remainder of the final rule becomes effective January 1, 2017.

Bottom line

OSHA continues to push through initiatives intended to raise the bar on workplace safety and health standards, including with respect to employer record keeping and reporting. In light of the 80 percent penalty increases in effect this summer, you should consult with counsel to ensure you comply with any new obligations that may apply under this new rule.

Arielle Sepulveda is an attorney with Day Pitney LLP in Parsippany, New Jersey. She can be reached at 973-966-8063 or asepulveda@daypitney.com.

Source:BLR® and Conn Maciel, Carey PLLC

“New Traveler’s Insurance Report – 170 Billion In Cost & 3.7 Million Workers Injured Per Year”

worker-with-head-injuryOf all public sector and private US businesses, roughly 3.7 million workers are injured per year. Businesses spend $170 billion per year on costs associated with occupational injuries and illnesses (according to OSHA) – and these findings provide critical insight on how the numbers add up.

The nature of employee injuries in the modern workplace is changing in a variety of ways. Improved workplace safety management efforts over the past 25 years have led to a decrease in the frequency of workers compensation claims. During this time, Travelers has seen an increase in the severity of those claims.1 Preventing even a single injury, or managing the injured worker’s return to work as soon as medically appropriate, can have a significant impact on the health of your workforce and on your company’s bottom line.

The Travelers Injury Impact Report, an analysis of workplace injuries based on Travelers Claim data collected between 2010-2015, identifies the most frequent injuries, those with the greatest severity and the top causes of workplace accidents, both by industry and by business size. This information can be helpful for employers to understand how to manage their exposures and tailor training programs for their workforce in their particular market and industry.

According to the Travelers Claim data, strains and sprains topped all lists for most frequent types of injuries, except for small businesses, which experienced cuts and punctures most frequently, followed by strains and sprains. Contusions, fractures and inflammation rounded out the list of the top five most frequent injuries.

Chart of Top 5 Most Frequent Injuries, by claim count

The report also explores the top five most frequent accident causes, with material handling topping the lists of most frequent causes of injury, followed by slips, trips and falls, struck by/striking against injuries, tool handling and cumulative trauma, according to claim count across all industries and all claims. “The injury type only tells part of the story,” explains Woody Dwyer, a Travelers Risk Control safety professional. “Identifying that root cause helps us determine the best strategies to help prevent future accidents and reduce their severity.”

As part of Travelers Workforce Advantage, Travelers Risk Control professionals can help businesses develop their strategies to attract, hire, onboard, train, support and engage their existing workforce. At its core, it focuses on the importance of elevating the company’s safety message, beginning with the recruiting process and continuing throughout the employee’s career at the company. The safety best practices, from safe lifting to getting adequate nightly sleep, can also offer health benefits beyond the workday for employees.

“A significant part of developing an effective risk management process involves understanding your unique workforce,” Dwyer said. This includes a shift in the state of health of the U.S. workforce, with more than half of workers experiencing at least one chronic health condition, such as heart disease, diabetes and arthritis. This can add cost and complexity to treating workplace injuries, which has led to rising medical costs for workers compensation claims.

If an employee does get injured, conducting an accident analysis can help discover the root cause of an accident, develop corrective action that can help prevent a similar accident in the future and continuously improve safety management practices.

Managing the employee’s injury so he or she returns to work as soon as medically appropriate can also help manage costs and improve employee morale. A Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE) is one tool that can measure an employee’s current functional status and ability to meet the physical demands of a job, especially after a workplace injury.

In 2015, medical cost inflation topped the list of risk concerns for businesses, according to the Travelers Business Risk Index. Promoting the overall health and safety of your employees can help control costs while retaining an engaged workforce. Learn about how you can create a culture of safety and develop an injury management strategy at your business.

Injuries can happen at any time, anywhere, regardless of industry or business size. Knowing what those injuries are and their root causes can help companies develop workplace safety practices. To learn more about the most frequent workplace injuries, those with the greatest severity and the top causes of accidents by business size, industry and region, view The Travelers Injury Impact Report.

Source:
1 The 2014 National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI).

“OSHA Issues Final Rule to Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses”

Firefox_Screenshot_2016-05-13T00-49-26.966Z

Provisions call for employers to electronically submit injury and illness data that they already record

Why is OSHA issuing this rule?

This simple change in OSHA’s rulemaking requirements will improve safety for workers across the country. One important reason stems from our understanding of human behavior and motivation. Behavioral economics tells us that making injury information publicly available will “nudge” employers to focus on safety. And, as we have seen in many examples, more attention to safety will save the lives and limbs of many workers, and will ultimately help the employer’s bottom line as well. Finally, this regulation will improve the accuracy of this data by ensuring that workers will not fear retaliation for reporting injuries or illnesses.

What does the rule require?

The new rule, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2017, requires certain employers to electronically submit injury and illness data that they are already required to record on their onsite OSHA Injury and Illness forms. Analysis of this data will enable OSHA to use its enforcement and compliance assistance resources more efficiently. Some of the data will also be posted to the OSHA website. OSHA believes that public disclosure will encourage employers to improve workplace safety and provide valuable information to workers, job seekers, customers, researchers and the general public. The amount of data submitted will vary depending on the size of company and type of industry.

Anti-retaliation protections

The rule also prohibits employers from discouraging workers from reporting an injury or illness. The final rule requires employers to inform employees of their right to report work-related injuries and illnesses free from retaliation; clarifies the existing implicit requirement that an employer’s procedure for reporting work-related injuries and illnesses must be reasonable and not deter or discourage employees from reporting; and incorporates the existing statutory prohibition on retaliating against employees for reporting work-related injuries or illnesses. These provisions become effective August 10, 2016.

Compliance schedule

The new reporting requirements will be phased in over two years:

Establishments with 250 or more employees in industries covered by the recordkeeping regulation must submit information from their 2016 Form 300A by July 1, 2017. These same employers will be required to submit information from all 2017 forms (300A, 300, and 301) by July 1, 2018. Beginning in 2019 and every year thereafter, the information must be submitted by March 2.

Establishments with 20-249 employees in certain high-risk industries* must submit information from their 2016 Form 300A by July 1, 2017, and their 2017 Form 300A by July 1, 2018. Beginning in 2019 and every year thereafter, the information must be submitted by March 2.

OSHA State Plan states must adopt requirements that are substantially identical to the requirements in this final rule within 6 months after publication of this final rule.

About

Related Links

“Our new rule will ‘nudge’ employers to prevent work injuries to show investors, job seekers, customers and the public they operate safe and well-managed facilities. Access to injury data will also help OSHA better target compliance assistance and enforcement resources, and enable ‘big data’ researchers to apply their skills to making workplaces safer.”

Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health


“Little OSHA Mistakes That Can Cost You Millions”

 

Little OSHA Mistakes Can Cost You Millions

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is commonly thought of as a red tape-laden, bureaucratic behemoth government organization that stunts job growth and reduces bottom-line profits. Yet the facts state otherwise. Take a look at the facts & stats below. Some will surprise you, others will shock you, but all point to a singular, indisputable fact: OSHA actually saves companies money in the long run.

REDUCED WORKERS’ COMPENSATION COSTS
A 2012 study by the University of California and Harvard University concluded that workplace injury claims dropped nearly 10% for employers who had undergone an OSHA inspection. The same study showed an average savings of 26% for total workers’ compensation costs for the same group of employers. These statistics prove the old adage, “Safety pays in the long run.”One study showed that for every $1 spent on safety programs, $5 is saved in accident avoidance and other related savings.

MORE INSPECTIONS = MORE SAVINGS
According to some analysts, more frequent OSHA inspections would save the U.S. economy around $6 billion per year.
The general consensus is that more aggressive OSHA action would stop supervisors and workers from “cutting corners.” Even with a widespread inspection schedule, OSHA can’t prevent all accidents from happening.
Each year, workplaces fatalities, injuries and illnesses add over $170 billion in costs.

WHAT KINDS OF ACCIDENTS DOES OSHA PREVENT?
Accidents are expensive – last year, $93 million was spent on carpentry-related falls – just one part of one industry’s accident expenses!
The 3 most common OSHA standards that are violated are:
Construction fall protection
General industry hazard communication
Construction scaffolding

OSHA legislation has helped reduce the numbers of daily on-the-job fatalities in America. In 1970, the average daily death toll for American laborers was 38.Today, that number has been reduced by almost two-thirds. In 2014, there were 14 worker fatalities per day.

As you can see, these statistics show that OSHA saves employers and companies in total operating costs. And it’s not just money; numerous lives are saved as well. Becoming OSHA compliant is a worthwhile goal for any employer AND employee.

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,566 other followers

%d bloggers like this: