Michaels: State OSH programs should raise penalties

State Plan states should increase their proposed penalties in light of federal OSHA's recent increase in penalties, agency administrator David Michaels said in a Nov. 16 speech broadcast at Washington state's Division of Occupational Safety and Health's State Plan Safety and Health Symposium in Tumwater.

Federal OSHA on Oct. 1 began using a new calculation method to determine proposed penalties. Michaels suggested state-run occupational safety and health programs should adopt such a change to be "at least as effective" as their federal counterpart.

He said the threat of penalties serves as a deterrent against cutting corners. Many of the State Plan states have average penalties for serious violations that "do not provide a credible deterrent," Michaels said.

Variations in penalties across the country pose a problem, the OSHA chief said, because they hamper a consistent response to nationwide problems. Along those lines, Michaels said all states should participate in National Emphasis Programs. He also said federal OSHA would establish a structure for states to provide input on developing NEPs and other policy changes.

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