Manufacturing & Distribution Client Advisory – Changes at VOSH
Changes at VOSH
All Virginia employers are subject to penalties for violation of OSHA safety and health standards as enforced by the Virginia Division of Occupational Safety and Health (VOSH), a part of the Commonwealth’s Department of Labor and Industry. Effective July 1, 2017, those penalties took a significant leap from a maximum of $7,000 for a serious or other than serious (usually recordkeeping or other paperwork) to $12,471. In keeping with the same percentage increase, the maximum penalties for repeat or willful violations increased to an eye catching $124,709 per violation.
Because of an annual inflation factor built into current law, the new penalties were again increased by 2% effective January 1, 2018. Thus, the current, maximum penalty for a serious violation is $12,720, and the maximum penalty for a willful or serious violation is $127,042.
Reductions to the amount for a serious violation may be available for employer size, a good safety history, and the “gravity” of the violation, meaning the likelihood of an injury occurring and how serious it would likely be. No reductions are allowed for a good safety history if the violation is classified as repeat or willful.
The best way for manufacturing and distribution firms to protect against these increased penalties is to always be prepared. This is best accomplished by having a comprehensive, written safety program administered by one or more experienced safety professionals. This can be staffed in house or outsourced as more appropriate. The program should include all required safety and health plans such as hazard communication, energy control (lock out/tag out), emergency and evacuation, and, where applicable, bloodborne pathogens and confined space entry. Documentation to include the required OSHA poster, job by job hazard assessment, and OSHA 300 and 300A forms should be up to date and readily available for inspection. Regular training must be provided as required by applicable OSHA standards and also well documented.
Bob Barry of the Kaufman & Canoles Manufacturing & Distribution Practice Group regularly works in this area and is available to perform on-site and confidential safety and health audits. This includes a walkthrough of our clients’ facilities, review of written programs and documentation with a resulting Audit Report discussing any problem areas and needed actions. The Report is attorney client privileged. Bob also represents clients who have received a VOSH Citation and has an excellent record of reducing the number and classification of Citation items and the resulting penalties.
The contents of this publication are intended for general information only and should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion on specific facts and circumstances. Copyright 2021.