This year, as has been the case the past six years, January brings two items from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) that almost all employers will want to keep in mind. One is an adjustment to the penalties OSHA can impose for a violation of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act and the other is a requirement to post injury and illness records.
Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses
Just as taxpayers must comply with the annual filing deadline of April 15, all employers that are required to maintain OSHA records must act by February 1 each year. On or before February 1 each year, employers that meet the requirements of the recordkeeping standard, 29 C.F.R. Part 1904, are obligated to complete and post the OSHA Form 300A Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses. Even if an employer that is obligated to maintain records of injuries and illnesses has no injuries or illnesses to record, the OSHA Form 300A must be completed and posted.
The OSHA Form 300A must be posted between February 1 and April 30 of the year following the calendar year covered by it (i.e., the OSHA Form 300A for 2022 must be posted between February 1 and April 30, 2023). Employers must post a copy of the annual summary in each establishment in a conspicuous place or places where notices to employees are customarily posted and ensure that the posted annual summary is not altered, defaced, or covered by other material. If the annual summary is altered, defaced, or damaged, employers are required to either post a new summary or ensure the existing summary is legible.
The OSHA Form 300A also requires that the certification of the completed form be completed by the highest-ranking company official working or the immediate supervisor of the highest-ranking company official working at the location to which the OSHA Form 300A applies. Simply having someone “in safety” certify the OSHA Form 300A is not compliant with the standard.
Since 2016, OSHA penalties have been adjusted for inflation. Every January, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announces increases in assessed penalties (whether OSHA, child labor violations, wage and hour violations, etc.). This year, the announcement from the DOL was that penalties are increasing a whopping 7.75 percent. That increase went into effect for OSHA penalties on January 15, 2023, meaning any penalty assessed after that date (not just violations occurring after that date) is subject to the increase. The maximum penalty for other-than-serious and serious citations will be $15,625 per violation and the maximum penalty for willful or repeated citations will be $156,259 per violation, up from $14,502 and $145,027, respectively. (Less than a decade ago—prior to August 1, 2016—the maximum penalties were $7,000 and $70,000, respectively.) Additionally, the minimum penalty for a willful or repeated violation will increase to $11,162 per violation.