OSHA panel talks agency’s ‘current activities’
Anaheim, CA – The status of OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program was in the spotlight during the “OSHA Current Activities” Technical Session on Monday at the 2016 NSC Congress & Expo.
Speaking during the panel session were Eric Kampert, director, Office of Construction Services; Doug Kalinowski, director, Directorate of Cooperative and State Programs; Patrick Kapust, deputy director, Directorate of Enforcement Programs; Andrew Levinson, deputy director, Directorate of Standards and Guidance; and Investigator Rob Swick.
The panel updated attendees on the Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which was launched in 2010 and focuses on employers who regularly neglect federal workplace safety violations. As of Sept. 2, the Directorate of Enforcement Programs had logged 538 SVEP cases – 64 percent in construction and 25 percent involving fatalities.
Other highlights from the session:
- Effective Aug. 2, OSHA raised its maximum penalty amounts for the first time since 1990. The maximum fine for serious, other than serious and posting requirement violations increased to $12,471 from $7,000. The maximum fines for willful or repeated violations shot up to $124,709 from $70,000.
- Kapust addressed OSHA’s ongoing Fall Prevention Campaign. Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry, which has seen total annual fatalities rise to 899 in 2015 from 774 in 2010. The campaign aims to raise awareness by advocating the three-step process of Plan, Provide and Train.
- After issuing a final rule intended to protect workers from exposure to respirable crystalline silica, OSHA is developing a final rule on beryllium. Exposure to the metal can lead to lung cancer or chronic beryllium disease.
- New initiatives in the “Request for Information” stage include those concerning workplace violence in the health care sector, the chemicals 1-bromopropane and styrene, revocation of obsolete permissible exposure limits, lockout/tagout, powered industrial trucks and power presses.
- OSHA is assembling a full committee of the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health with the intent of issuing a review and recommendation for its standard on fire brigades (29 CFR 1910.156) by year’s end. The agency stated that the committee will work to eliminate or minimize the standard’s impact on small entities, such as volunteer fire departments.