Doug Parker, the former head of Cal/OSHA nominated by President Biden on April 9, 2021, to lead federal OSHA, steps into the most pressurized and politicized atmosphere in the agency’s 50-year history.
Facility safety inspections are important for all businesses, regardless of their size. The objective of these internal audits is to identify hazards, monitor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards, and ensure that corrective actions are taken appropriately.
Federal workplace safety and health inspectors will focus on sites such as hospitals and other health-care facilities where there is a high risk of coronavirus infection and specific complaints have been filed, OSHA said in its latest guidance.
Many of the OSHA cases that cite “willful” violations present mysteries. The mysteries are why the alleged violations were categorized as willful. These charges are not a mystery to OSHA, but they are mysteries to readers of citations. Since the penalty for a willful violation can be over $130,000, there should not be any mystery about such charges.
In OSHA’s 48-year-old history, the agency has experienced desperate hours on a regular schedule. The agency opened its door in 1971. Before the decade was out a “STOP OSHA” lobbying movement was underway. In 1979, Republican Senator Richard Schweiker of Pennsylvania proposed an “OSHA Improvements Act” which would have exempted from inspections all employers, large or small, regardless of industry, with good safety records. It was defeated in 1980.
An OSHA health compliance officer (an industrial hygienist -- IH) recently put me in an ethical dilemma. While conducting “side-by-side” air sampling as the employer’s representative during an OSHA inspection, I observed that the OSHA IH was not sampling for asbestos correctly.
It was around 4:30 in the afternoon on March 25, 1911. Several hundred workers, mostly young women, were nearing the end of their Saturday shift at a blouse or “shirtwaist” factory in New York City. No one is quite sure how, but a massive fire erupted and spread quickly.
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.