Non-compliance just got more expensive: OSHA's latest tactics
You don't need to be a senior White House official to know President 0bama has been making big changes at OSHA. And most of those changes center on one main idea: ramping up enforcement. A recent report released by OMB Watch analyzed what Obama and OSHA head David Michaels have done to boost enforcement.
"The Obama Approach to Public Protection: Enforcement" concludes that an era of deregulation and focus on assisting employers with compliance that began under President Reagan is over. One look at OSHA's budget proves it. Even with the current economic troubles, Obama and Congress increased OSHA's budget by about $50 million. And he's requested another $13 million boost for 2011.
Citations up, not inspections
What's OSHA doing with all that extra cash? Surprisingly, inspectors aren't conducting that many more inspections. But they are issuing a whole lot more citations. OSHA issued more than 68,000 violations in 2009 -a 167% increase over '08. In the first half of 2010 alone, the agency racked up 113,970 citations. And expensive willful violations are through the roof as well. In 2008, OSHA issued 203 willful violations. In 2010, the agency is slated to dish out nearly 1,200 willful penalties.
Less compliance help
Obama and OSHA are doing more to target high-risk companies and industries with programs like the Severe Violator Enforcement Program. But the agency is also doing less to help companies comply with regs. Officials are taking a second look at the Voluntary Protection Program, and Michaels recently suggested companies may soon have to pay to participate in the program.
Making workplace safety public
Obama's term has been marked with several major safety incidents, from the Upper Big Branch mine explosion to the BP oil spill. As a result, the president has taken a more direct role in shaping regulatory enforcement and policy.
The report suggests these national news stories, coupled with Obama's focus on enforcement, could lead to increased regulations and compliance requirements for years to come.
Reprinted with Permission from
Safety Compliance Alert 1/4/11
Thu, January 20, 2011
by Kim Bowman