OSHA Penalties to Increase by More Than Half in 2016
Dec 16, 2015
Congress has recently signed the 2016 federal budget deal that, among other provisions, involves an increase of OSHA penalties effective August 1, 2016. Should your medical facility worry? What does it mean and how do you get prepared? It’s one of our goals at BWS, Inc. to keep you up to date on all new developments in the medical waste removal and employee safety industries. Here is a quick overview we’ve put together to help you understand the implications of this OSHA change for your facility.
Why Are OSHA Penalties Increasing?
Fines and penalties, whether they are issued by OSHA or another government agency, are supposed to increase gradually in response to the changing Consumer Price Index (CPI). The CPI is essentially a measurement of how much consumers are paying for a “representative basket of goods and services.” As you can imagine, people are currently paying more for food, gas and almost everything else than 10-15 years ago. The current OSHA penalties have been the same since 1990, so now the government is taking an opportunity to catch up.
How Much Will OSHA Penalties Increase?
Fifteen years is a lot of catching up to do! According to the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, OSHA is authorized to increase penalties by up to 150%. However, the more realistic figure everyone is talking about after reviewing the most recent CPI is 80% which more or less reflects the pricing difference between 1990 and 2015. This will be the initial catch-up effort to cover the past 15 years of uncollected fines. After that, OSHA is going to increase penalties annually in accordance with the CPI change. This won’t have that much of an impact, but it means that OSHA penalties will continue to grow.
Should My Facility Worry?
I you have been fined by OSHA in the past, you should definitely worry. The maximum penalty for repeat or willful violation is about to increase from $70,000 to over $124,000! This is a major financial hit many organizations simply can’t afford to take. Even if you have never been cited by OSHA, now is a good time to review whether your facility meets all occupational safety standards.
What Can I do to Avoid OSHA Penalties?
OSHA has a large body of occupational safety standards all employers have to follow. And as a medical facility, your workplace is much more hazardous than most other workplaces. A lot of it has to do with regulated medical waste and potential exposure to bloodborne pathogens and other potentially harmful substances. To minimize this exposure and keep your employees safe, make sure you:
- Have an exposure control plan.
- Use proper medical waste containers with clear labeling.
- Upgrade your equipment to reduce needlestick injuries.
- Train your staff on what to do with each type of regulated medical waste and how to handle it safely.
- Don’t pour regulated liquid waste down the drain.
- Contract with a reputable medical waste removal company.
- Take the steps to prevent medical waste spills.
And if you have other questions about regulated medical waste handling or OSHA compliance, we’ll be happy to provide more resources. Call, email or contact us online with any questions!
"I’ve been using Biomedical Waste Services, Inc. for nearly 20 years! I’ve had superior customer service since day one with no surprises on our invoices."
- Dr. Kim