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Another Big Year for OSHA in 2020

Another Big Year for OSHA in 2020


It’s a new year for the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) and it plans to increase inspections just as it did in 2019. OSHA conducted 33,401 inspections in 2019, the most conducted since 2015. The inspections conducted in 2019 were focused on trenching, falls, chemical exposure, and silica exposure. For 2020, OSHA intends to continue to perform an increased number of inspections focusing on those similar high-hazard areas.

Inspections weren’t the only action OSHA increased during the 2019 year. Health and safety training and on-site consultation services were also a big focus for the federal agency. With increasing technology innovations and feedback from employers, OSHA plans to revise and update a few of its regulations in the new year. Employers should be on the lookout for updates to the lockout/tagout, powered industrial truck, and walking/working surfaces.

In addition, as part of an initiative under the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA), OSHA is planning to draft and develop a workplace violence standard to address the increasing number of workplace violence incidents in the healthcare and social services industries. Once a standard is finalized, employers in certain industries will be required to address workplace violence and comply with regulatory requirements. The SBREFA was established in 1996 to assist small businesses to understand and comply with regulations and provide more of a voice in the development of new regulations.

Even though OSHA is increasing the number of inspections, the agency cannot reasonably inspect every workplace. So how do you know whether you’ll receive a knock on the door from OSHA? The following are all instances that will more than likely result in OSHA inspecting or investigating your workplace.

  1. Investigations of imminent danger which are brought on by workplace conditions or practices that could reasonably be expected to cause death or serious physical harm to employees immediately or before enforcement action can be taken.
  2. Fatality and catastrophe investigations which are conducted when any work-related incident results in the death of an employee or the in-patient hospitalization of three or more employees.
  3. Investigations of complaints may be conducted when OSHA receives a complaint regarding unsafe or unhealthy workplace conditions.
  4. Programmed inspections are OSHA’s regularly scheduled inspections in “high-hazard” industries such as manufacturing, construction, utilities, and agriculture. These inspections are normally conducted without an advanced notice to the employer.

Even if the above circumstances are not relevant to your particular operation, an unexpected work‑related incident or complaint can warrant the agency to take action. Inspections are usually unannounced so it’s best to be prepared in advance. Be proactive about identifying and correcting hazards before an incident occurs. Mock OSHA inspections and workplace audits conducted by third‑party Auditors are a great way to ensure your company is prepared for an OSHA inspection.

Environmental Standards provides environmental, health and safety (EHS) gap assessments and audits for a number of clients to assist with regulatory compliance and improve the health and safety conditions of the workplace. For more information on EHS services we offer, please contact Cody Dye or Dr. Michael Green.

Michael Green, Ph.D, MBA, CPEA

Principal/Senior Advisor

Cody Dye, CSP

EHS Consultant III