New OSHA Updates Claim to Save Employers $6.1 Million

Effective July 15th, OSHA is making 14 revisions to the federal rules that affect the construction industry. These changes, according to OSHA, will save employers approximately $6.1 million by clearing up confusion regarding compliance. Specifically they have removed or revised, “outdated, duplicative, unnecessary, and inconsistent requirements in OSHA’s safety and health standards, which will permit better compliance by employers and reduce costs and paperwork burdens where possible, without reducing employee protections.”

OSHA is updating the method of identifying and calling emergency medical services. This update, according to the report, may increase costs to employers by approximately $32,000.

However, there are two provisions (reduction in the number of necessary employee x-rays and elimination of posting requirements for residential construction employers) which may provide estimated combined cost savings of $6.1 million annually.

According to Equipment World, some of the highlighted changes are:

  • Eliminates requirement that employers provide periodic chest X-rays to screen for lung cancer. OSHA says studies have shown X-ray screening does not reduce lung cancer incident or death.
  • Updates the requirements for providing emergency services contacts. OSHA adds a requirement that employers must ensure that their communication system can effectively contact 911 services. And if the system is in an area that does not automatically supply the caller’s location to the 911 dispatcher, the employer must post or provide in some way the worksite’s longitude and latitude to employees. OSHA estimates this requirement will cost the construction industry a total of $32,440 a year. This cost will dissipate as enhanced 911 wireless service becomes universal, OSHA says.
  • Changes the minimum breaking-strength requirement for lifelines for fall protection to 5,000 pounds instead of 5,400 pounds. This was done for consistency and to end confusion.
  • Updates standards for traffic control devices at road construction areas to comply with the 2009 edition of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, the same as used by the U.S. Department of Transportation, as well as state DOTs.
  • Eliminates the requirement that employees’ Social Security numbers be provided on exposure monitoring, medical surveillance or other records designed for OSHA to track employees for research purposes. Social Security numbers are no longer required for these OSHA standards: Respirable Crystalline Silica; Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response; Asbestos; Vinyl Chloride; Inorganic Arsenic; Lead; Chromium, Cadmium, Benzene, Coke Oven Emission, Bloodborne Pathogens, Cotton Dust; 1,2 Dibromo-3-Chloropropane; Acrylonitrile; Ethylene Oxide; Formaldehyde; Methylenedianiline; 1,3-Butadiene; and Methylene Chloride.

 

Prior to these upcoming changes, OSHA increase penalties in January, 2019. Their current maximum penalties are:

  • $13,260 per violation — serious, other-than-serious or posting violations
  • $13,260 per day — failure to abate
  • $132,598 per violation — willful or repeated violations

According to OSHA’s “Business Case for Safety and Health,” an employer can save money by adhering to the rules, doing his/her part to prevent injury, death, and illness. They can also save money by avoiding penalties and costly investigations.

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