OSHA’s Impact on Businesses in 2016

2016 could have a big impact on businesses and workers’ compensation programs.  Let’s take a closer look at what you can expect this year.

OSHA’s Recordkeeping Emphasis

If your business is subject to OSHA recordkeeping rules, you should be familiar with the changes that went into effect on January 1, 2015.  However, some worry the result of these new guidelines could create more follow-up inspections based on the injuries that are now required to be reported.  For example, employers are now required to report amputations to OSHA.  OSHA has programs both on a national and regional basis which includes both hazards and industries.  Therefore, if an injury falls in one of their emphasis program areas, like amputations, you might expect that a follow-up, in-depth inspection will take place.

Electronic Reporting Proposal

This proposed rule would require the electronic submission of injury and illness information to OSHA.  Originally, many believed the rule would be finalized and issued in January 2016.  However, OSHA has delayed the ruling at least until a new administration is in place.  This proposed rule has many employers on edge because it would give the public access to their workers’ compensation claims information.  OSHA believes with this information acquired through this proposal, employers, employees, the government, and researchers will be better able to identify and fix workplace hazards.  However, many employers are concerned that when their information becomes public, it could be used against them, without knowing all the efforts already in place for accident prevention programs and how injuries and illnesses actually occurred.

General Duty Clause

There could be many more violations cited under OSHA’s General Duty Clause this year.  Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels says, “OSHA will not hesitate to use the General Duty Clause where violations have no standards covering them, or when there is a standard, but employers could have done more to protect employees.”  We could see more citations involving musculoskeletal disorders because of repetitive tasks, lifting, pushing, and pulling.  Workplace violence is another area where more citations could fall under the General Duty Clause along with multi-employer sites.

Safety and Program Health Management-Voluntary Program

OSHA issued its voluntary guidelines related to their program last November and opened the subject up for comments through March 3rd.  Dr. Michaels says, “The goal of safety and health management is to prevent workplace injuries, illnesses and deaths. Employers who embrace these guidelines will experience lower injury and illness rates, and their progress in improving the safety culture at their worksites will contribute to higher productivity, reduced costs and greater worker satisfaction.”

Some major elements of the voluntary program include the following:

  • management commitment and employee involvement
  • worksite analysis
  • hazard prevention and control
  • safety and health training