Overview of OSHA Updates in 2024

As of January 2024, OSHA released an update to the maximum penalty costs to adjust for the cost-of-living increases over the past few years as well as changes to some of their National Emphasis Program’s. Below, we’ll outline some of those changes.

Penalty Cost Adjustments

Changes to maximum penalty costs to violations in serious, other than serious, and posting violations categories increased to $16,131 per violation. Failure to abate violations are $16,131 per day (generally limited to 30 days) beyond the abatement date. Willful or repeated violations are $161,323 for each violation. The higher gravity of the violation, the higher the cost of the fine will be. 

Types of OSHA Citations:

  • Serious: Violation of situations in which a hazardous condition could lead to death or serious harm of an employee.
  • Other Than Serious: Violation of situations in which a hazardous condition could lead to a direct and/immediate injury/illness but would not cause death or serious harm to the employee. This category also covers failures in recordkeeping, posting and electronic reporting.
  • Failure to Abate: Violation in which previously cited hazards were not brought into compliance since the previous inspection.
  • Willful: Employer intentionally disregards OSHA requirements or demonstrates indifference to health & safety of employees.
  • Repeated: Violation of a previously cited hazard. These violations were corrected at one point in time but found again in a new inspection.

It is important to note that in January of 2023, OSHA issued an expansion on their Instance-By-Instance (IBI) citations which outlines that if an employer has multiple violations, those citation fees will be individualized instead of grouped together as they might have been in the past. To give an example, if a company has multiple work sites with the same hazards identified, OSHA will cite each site with the violation, not the company as a whole. This can lead to very hefty fees for a company. 

What is an NEP?

A National Emphasis Program (NEP) is a temporary specific hazard awareness program which OSHA focuses their resources on. These hazards can be seen in the general industry or can be in targeted industries. For example, in 2021 OSHA issued an NEP on Covid-19 which covered general industry, and then was revised to focus on the healthcare industry as they were at the most risk for exposure. The NEPs will provide directives for employers to follow to ensure workers are protected from the focused hazard. OSHA inspections will typically focus on industries with the highest exposures to the hazard identified in the NEP.

What is an LEP?

In addition to a National Emphasis Program, Regional OSHA offices can develop Local Emphasis Programs (LEP) as well. For example, as of October 2023, Region II which covers NJ, NY, Puerto Rico, and VI, implemented an LEP focused on construction work sites with a purpose “to identify and reduce or eliminate hazards at local construction projects.” This LEP outlines that programmed (OSHA planned) inspections will be determined through collecting local information regarding construction projects and will identify which establishments (addresses) they will inspect. OSHA will also continue their Unprogrammed (unplanned) inspections after a trigger such as a fatality or catastrophe, complaints, or referrals.

What are the current NEPs and LEPs in place that could impact a construction site?

In addition to the LEP of Construction Work Sites:

  • NEP – Combustible Dust – started in January 2023 with no expiration date.
  • NEP – Falls – started in May 2023 with no expiration date.
  • NEP – Outdoor & Indoor Heat-Related Hazard – started in April 2022 with a planned expiration of April 2025.
  • NEP – Respirable Crystalline Silica – started in February 2020 with no expiration date.
  • LEP – Noise Hazards – started October 2019 with a planned expiration date of Sept 2024.

This names a few, but there can be more depending on the type of construction a business is doing. The OSHA.gov website lists out all the NEPs and LEPs and provides resources to comply with these emphasis programs.

An employer may not be able to avoid an OSHA inspection, but there are things that can be done to ensure the process runs as smoothly as possible. Have a plan for the event which outlines who should meet with the inspector, how to determine what the inspector needs to see and what information needs to be provided immediately.  As always, OneGroup is available to help put a plan together and/or work on safety related programs to ensure employee health and safety is prioritized. For more information contact Brett Findlay at, BFindlay@OneGroup.com, Megan Coville at MCoville@OneGroup.com, or Paula DeStefano at PDeStefano@OneGroup.com.


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