OSHA management can often be a difficult prospect, as there are hundreds of potential problems that can arise over time in one single location. Everything that could potentially harm a worker must be regularly checked, education and training must be continually focused upon, and any potential problems need to be fixed as soon as possible.
These problems are going to become even more complicated as OSHA's new reporting requirements continue to change, JD Supra Business Advisor reported. At the beginning of the year, the administration made its notification policies more stringent, requiring notification any time there's a workplace fatality, in-patient hospitalization, eye loss or amputation resulting from an incident on company premises. To better meet the boost in reports expected – which may reach anywhere between 50,000 to 67,700 annually - OSHA is also trying to hire more inspectors and, more immediately, has put new requirements in place for the reporting process.
After an initial report has been received by OSHA, a secondary questionnaire will be sent back to the location, asking employers to determine how the incident was caused and whether any similar incidents had happened before. After that, OSHA will separate the reports they receive into three separate categories, to determine the severity of the situation.
- Category 1 reports will involve fatalities or hospitalizations of at least two employees. Locations can also gain this level of attention if repeat offenders, imminent danger to workers or injuries to minors are found. In these situations, an on-site inspection will automatically go into place.
- Category 2 reports would involve a "possible" inspection at the discretion of the local OSHA area inspector. Anything that involves any combination of continued employee hazard exposure, safety program failures, referrals from whistleblower complaints or government agencies, or exposure to falls and similar hazards would register under this finding.
- Category 3 offenses would not meet criteria for Categories 1 and 2, and would instead trigger a "rapid response investigation." This would involve a letter requesting employers conduct self-investigations, likely including leading questions about workplace safety concerns.
It will be very important for employers to know exactly what will be expected of them in any given scenario. It's also likely that these new steps will create a new user database expected to capture all employer information received, although it's not yet known if the information collected will be released to the public.
Looking to seek input
However, many leaders may get a chance to have their own say, performing their own form of OSHA maintenance on the administration's future rules. Occupational Health and Safety Magazine reported that OSHA is seeking input from the public about updating regulations and requirements.
OSHA seeks to remove or revise any duplicate, unnecessary or inconsistent standards. Questions being looked at include reporting requirements that may be able to be streamlined or reduced in frequency, as well as regulatory reforms that could cause long-term savings. Any advice that could improve cohesion with the Department of Labor would also be considered, the news source added.
"We believe that these standards have reduced the compliance costs and eliminated or reduced the paperwork burden for a number of OSHA's standards. And best of all, these projects have been a win-win, because OSHA only considers making such changes to its standards so long as they do not diminish employee protections," an OSHA release on its website said. "We need your help to help find other opportunities to shape smarter regulations!"
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