With the new year upon us, many experts are speculating on what workers, employers and insurance companies can expect in the way of workplace safety trends for 2013. The following are some of the work-related safety trends that will likely be the focus of 2013:
- New and Revised Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Regulations: Among the highest priorities of Dr. David Michaels, the head of OSHA, is setting up OSHA regulations that require employers to have Injury and Illness Prevention Programs (IIPPs). Evidence to support the requirement for IIPPs is that they can reduce work injuries by between 15 and 35 percent for employers who currently do not have an IIPP in place; additionally, IIPPs can decrease the number of workers compensation claims by about 52 percent. Other potentially new OSHA regulations on the horizon for 2013 include those relating to infectious diseases, backup alarms on construction vehicles, electrical power transmission and distribution regulations, and revisions to the walking surfaces regulations.
- An Increased Focus on OSHA Enforcement: Over the past few years, there has been a trend in increased OSHA enforcement action, as well as increased costs in the citations levied against employers in violation of these regulations. In fact, since 2008, the amount of the average OSHA citation has nearly doubled to be about $3,000. Additionally, between 2010 and 2012, the number of companies who have been issued six-figure fines (i.e., fines greater than $100,000) has increased by about 32 percent. Part of this sharp increase in the amount of OSHA citations involves regulators reclassifying the violations (i.e., instead of deeming a violation to be “serious,” which carries a maximum penalty of $7,000, regulators are starting to deem the same violation to be “willful,” which carries a maximum fine of $70,000). This trend is expected to strengthen in 2013.
The goal of these OSHA trends is to improve workplace safety, to protect workers and to ultimately hold employers who violate safety regulations responsible for their negligence and recklessness.