The Mine Safety and Health Administration is planning the release of two final rules this year, while the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has plans to release eight new rules, all by years end. Mine operators have been critical of some of these proposed changes for fear that fines will be higher. MSHA plans to release a final rule addressing fees for testing, evaluating, and approving mining products this August. Find more information here on the proposed MSHA, OSHA plan to release new rules and target release dates.
According to OSHA, thousands of workers suffer the effects of heat exposure each year. Those who work outdoors or in hot indoor environments are at particular risk for heat stress. In collaboration with National Weather Service, OSHA is continuing a summer-long campaign to promote heat safety and awareness. Part of this campaign includes updates to the Heat Safety Tool app, which allows both workers and supervisors to keep track of the heat index at their worksite and displaying a risk level for outdoor workers. Learn more about the campaign and app here.
Construction workers, miners, sand blasters, and road maintenance crews are among the two million American workers exposed to silica-one of the most common earth minerals-while working on the job. The tiny dust particles can build up in their lungs over time, leading to the potentially fatal lung disease silicosis. OSHA is fighting for stricter limits on how much silica dust workers can be exposed to on the job. Today there are still more than 1600 new cases of silicosis every year, leading to almost 100 deaths. Using water or a vacuum when cutting stone will help reduce the amount of dust workers are exposed to. Wearing respirators during work will also help reduce the amount of dust workers inhale. OSHA believes new rules will save more lives.
“Training and education are elements of a strong injury and illness prevention program that can help employers find and fix workplace hazards before workers get hurt.”
-Training Requirements in OSHA Standards
OSHA has released its new guide for employers detailing updated training requirements and standards. The new guide, “Training Requirements in OSHA Standards,” organizes requirements into five categories: general industry, maritime, construction, agriculture, and federal employee programs. The guide provides information on commonly cited violations, including fall protection, HazCom, scaffolding, control of hazardous energy and hazmat procedures. Find more information here on OSHA’s new guide.
Now is the time to make sure your safety programs are comprehensive and up to date and that all employees have received the safety training necessary for work. Since 1990, OSHA has not been able to increase the civil penalties it can impose when an employer is cited for a violation. That changed on November 2, when President Obama signed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. Hidden within the act are terms requiring OSHA to significantly increase civil penalties. And this isn’t just a little increase, it is more of a “catch up” adjustment, resulting in a penalty increase of approximately 80 percent. In other words, a $7,000 cap on serious violations will increase to $12,600, and the $70,000 limit on willful and repeat violations will jump to $126,000. After this “catch up” adjustment is made, OSHA will continue to adjust penalties every year based on the annual percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index. Increased penalties will take effect by August 1, 2016.