Understanding the Latest OSHA Citation Policy and Fine Updates for Industrial Employers

As a workers’ compensation insurance agent, you know that maintaining a safe workplace is critical to keeping insurance premiums low and protecting clients’ employees. That’s why it’s important to stay up to date with the latest updates to OSHA citations and fines, which can have a serious impact on clients’ bottom lines. 

In this blog post, we’ll look at what the latest OSHA updates entail, and how they could affect the industrial employers you work with.

What are the updates to OSHA citations and fines?

In January 2023, OSHA announced a significant update to its citation and penalty policies. The update increases fines for both serious violations and repeat violations. Additionally, the new guidance allows the agency to issue citations for each instance of a violation (previously several violations could be grouped together under a single citation). Updates go into effect on March 25, 2023.

Overview of the OSHA Citation Policy and Fine Updates

  • Increased Penalties for Serious Violations: OSHA increased the maximum penalty for serious violations from $14,502 per violation to $15,625. 
  • Increased Penalties for Willful or Repeat Violations: OSHA increased its maximum penalty for a willful or repeat violation to $156,259, a 7.7% increase from 2022.
  • New Guidance for Instance-by-Instance Citations: OSHA expanded its instance-by-instance citation policy, allowing the citation of violations for cases where the agency identifies “high-gravity” serious violations. These conditions include lockout/tagout, machine guarding and falls, among others. Additionally, the agency is emphasizing the use of separate citations for each instance of a serious violation.

The new guidance, which covers enforcement activity in general industry, agriculture, maritime and construction industries, could increase the number of citations and fines levied against industrial employers.

Why do these updates matter for industrial employers?

OSHA’s citation and penalty policies are designed to keep workers safe and healthy. The agency is responsible for enforcing workplace safety regulations, and noncompliance can lead to significant fines, legal action and damage to a company’s reputation.

The recent updates will affect industrial employers, no matter the size of their business (although they may have a greater financial impact on small- to medium-sized companies). The increased penalties will make it harder for companies to ignore safety regulations, and the expansion of instance-by-instance citations means that violations will result in more significant financial penalties.

As a risk manager working with industrial employers, you must understand the potential impact of these updates. Your clients may need to take additional steps to ensure compliance and avoid costly penalties.

Here are some potential consequences to consider:

Higher Costs: The increased penalties for serious violations and the change to instance-by-instance citations will result in higher fines for industrial employers. This could lead to significant costs that may impact a company’s bottom line.

Increased Focus on Safety: The OSHA updates serve as a reminder that safety should always be a top priority for industrial employers. By focusing on safety, employers can reduce the risk of serious violations and fines.

Smaller Companies at Risk: Smaller companies may be more at risk from the recent OSHA fine hike. These companies may have less experience with OSHA regulations and fewer resources to address violations, making them more susceptible to fines.

Reputational Damage: OSHA violations can result in negative publicity and damage a company’s reputation. Employers should take steps to address any violations quickly and effectively to avoid reputational damage.

What can insurance brokers do to help their clients?

You can help your clients prepare for these updates by providing guidance on workplace safety and agency compliance. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Educate your clients about the new OSHA citation and penalty policies. Make sure they understand the potential impact on their business and the steps they can take to avoid violations.
  • Encourage your clients to conduct regular safety audits and implement safety programs. By doing so, they can identify potential hazards and implement appropriate safeguards.
  • Offer resources and training on workplace safety. You can provide your clients with access to training materials and resources that will help them meet OSHA’s safety regulations.
  • Review your clients’ workers’ compensation policies. Make sure their policies provide adequate coverage for workplace injuries and illnesses.

Overall, OSHA’s new enforcement guidance is intended to deter employers from repeatedly exposing workers to life-threatening hazards or failing to comply with certain workplace safety and health requirements. The new policies and latest fine increases underscore the importance for companies – large and small – to prioritize workplace safety and compliance.