The new bipartisan budget, passed by both the House and the Senate and signed by President Obama on November 2, contains provisions that will raise the penalties for Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) violations for the first time in 25 years. Compared to the current fines, the new OSHA penalties will be staggering…adjusting upward to the 2015 Consumer Price Index (CPI) from the 1990 CPI.
Effective August 1, 2016, here is what the new maximum penalties will look like:
- Serious violations: $12,600
- Other than Serious violations: $12,600
- Willful violations: $126,000
- Repeat violations: $126,000
3 things facilities can be doing now:
1. Perform mock OSHA audits. Facilities need to identify where their programmatic deficiencies lie, and how to correct them. If you don’t have a qualified healthcare safety professional on your staff, find a service company that will work with you.
2. Have a qualified healthcare safety professional available at your beck and call. You need someone with the knowledge, skill sets and answers to keep your safety management program current and compliant, and who is qualified and able to do periodic compliance audits and inspections.
3. Make sure your written programs are compliant, your recordkeeping systems are compliant (and current) and that you are meeting all of the training requirements of the standards that affect your healthcare facility.
As OSHA continues to keep the focus on healthcare facilities, raising the penalties seems to be a logical weapon for them to use. And while these changes are across all industry lines, we know healthcare continues to be one of the industries OSHA targets, based on the high rates of "Days Away, Restrictions and Transfers" (DART) we continue to deal with.
With these new penalties, it would not be surprising to see a new program next year that gets more aggressive with inspections of healthcare facilities of all types.
Steve Wilder is COO at Sorensen, Wilder & Associates, a safety and security consultancy in Bourbonnais, IL .