OSHA updates enforcement policy on process safety management

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Photo: kodda/iStockphoto

Washington — OSHA has updated its process safety management enforcement policy for the first time in 30 years.

The agency announced the change in a directive that went into effect Jan. 26. The directive is intended for OSHA inspectors and other personnel, but also provides insight to employers and workers covered under the standard.

Much of the document is in a question-and-answer format, covering subjects such as:

  • Process hazard analysis
  • Operating procedures
  • Training
  • Incident investigations
  • Emergency planning and response
  • Compliance audits

Appendix A in the document is intended to clarify some parts of OSHA’s standard on PSM. Appendix B includes links to letters of interpretation, which formed the basis for the Q&A. Appendix C contains an index of common terms and phrases.

“OSHA promulgated the PSM standard in 1992 in response to the numerous catastrophic chemical manufacturing incidents that occurred worldwide,” the directive states. “Since the promulgation of the standard, numerous questions have been submitted and compliance guidance provided to industry on the application of the standard.”

State plans must notify OSHA of their intent to adopt the directive within 60 days. Otherwise, they must have policies and procedures that are “identical to or different from the federal program.” Either way, state plan adoption must occur within six months.


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Original article published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

Federal OSHA and Cal/OSHA reach agreement on enforcement authority

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Photo: Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Ian Thomas

Washington — OSHA and the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health have a new agreement that clarifies which agency has enforcement authority in certain situations.

Under the revised Operational Status Agreement, effective Jan. 5, federal OSHA has authority within U.S. military installations with controlled access and secured borders, but Cal/OSHA – which operates under a State Plan – will enforce health and safety for state and local government employers who work on those sites.

The agreement revises the list of federal enclaves in which OSHA has enforcement authority.

Federal OSHA also has authority over employers on Native American reservations or trust lands. Cal/OSHA will enforce health and safety for state and local government employers who work on those lands or tribal employers operating outside those lands.

In addition, the agreement clarifies that OSHA’s authority over maritime employers includes “all afloat dredging and pile-driving and similar operations on navigable waters, and all floating drilling platforms on navigable waters.”


McCraren Compliance offers a full range of safety and health training and consulting services. Plus we can help you incorporate well-being into your traditional systems in order to support the Total Worker Health of your workforce.

Call 888-758-4757, email info@mccrarencompliance.com or visit our website www.mccrarencompliance.com

Original article published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

US Department of Labor announces national emphasis program to reduce, prevent workplace falls, a leading cause of workplace fatalities

Original article published by OSHA

OSHA initiative aligns enforcement, outreach efforts to protect workers

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor today announced that its Occupational Safety and Health Administration has begun a National Emphasis Program to prevent falls, the leading cause of fatal workplace injuries and the violation the agency cites most frequently in construction industry inspections.

The emphasis program will focus on reducing fall-related injuries and fatalities for people working at heights in all industries. The targeted enforcement program is based on historical Bureau of Labor Statistics data and OSHA enforcement history. BLS data shows that of the 5,190 fatal workplace injuries in 2021, 680 were associated with falls from elevations, about 13 percent of all deaths.

“This national emphasis program aligns all of OSHA’s fall protection resources to combat one of the most preventable and significant causes of workplace fatalities,” said Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker. “We’re launching this program in concert with the 10th annual National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction and the industry’s Safety Week. Working together, OSHA and employers in all industries can make lasting changes to improve worker safety and save lives.”

The program establishes guidance for locating and inspecting fall hazards and allows OSHA compliance safety and health officers to open inspections whenever they observe someone working at heights. An outreach component of the program will focus on educating employers about effective ways to keep their workers safe. If a compliance officer determines an inspection is not necessary after entering a worksite and observing work activities, they will provide outreach on fall protection and leave the site.

Learn more about federally required fall protection.


McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

OSHA says its new authority to issue nonimmigrant status visas will aid investigations

Original article published by Safety+Health

Washington — OSHA will soon be able to issue certifications in support of T and U nonimmigrant status visas, a move the agency contends will aid in some workplace safety investigations.

“T visas” are for victims of human trafficking. “U visas” are for victims of certain crimes, including felonious assault, extortion, forced labor and obstruction of justice. These visas “provide immigration status to noncitizen victims and allow them to remain in the United States to assist authorities in combating human trafficking and other crimes,” OSHA says in a Feb. 13 press release.

The agency’s new authority is schedule to go into effect March 30.

“Workers in the United States need to feel empowered and able to trust OSHA and the U.S. Department of Labor enough to voice their concerns about workplace safety regardless of their immigration status and fears of retaliation,” OSHA administrator Doug Parker said in the release. “By enabling OSHA to issue U and T visa certifications, we will be empowering some of our economy’s most vulnerable workers to tell us if their jobs are jeopardizing their safety and health, and that of their co-workers, and to support our enforcement efforts.”


McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

OSHA updates emphasis program on combustible dust

Original article published by Safety+Health
OSHA has revised its National Emphasis Program on combustible dust

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Photo: Chemical Safety Board

Washington —The updated NEP, which went into effect Jan. 30, reflects combustible dust incident reports and enforcement history. According to OSHA, wood and food products accounted for 70% of materials in combustible dust explosions and fires in 2018.

“Incident reports indicate that the majority of the industries involved in combustible dust hazards are wood processing, agricultural and food production, and lumber production, but others are susceptible as well,” the agency says in a Jan. 27 press release.

OSHA has added the following industries to the NEP, by the North American Industry Classification System:

  • 311812 – Commercial bakeries
  • 325910 – Printing ink manufacturing
  • 321912 – Cut stock, resawing lumber and planing
  • 316110 – Leather and hide tanning and finishing
  • 321214 – Truss manufacturing
  • 424510 – Grain and field bean merchant wholesalers

The NEP, which replaces a March 2008 directive, will remain in effect until a cancellation notice is issued. OSHA notes that the revised directive doesn’t replace a similar one for grain handling facilities, “but it may cover operations involving grain processing that are outside the scope of the grain handling directive.”

OSHA initially launched its NEP on combustible dust in October 2007 after a number of incidents that resulted in fatalities and serious injuries. The agency reissued the emphasis program in 2008 after an explosion at the Imperial Sugar Co.’s refinery in Port Wentworth, GA. Fourteen people were killed and 36 others were injured as a result of the incident.

“The combustible dust NEP is one of the agency’s important programs for proactively inspecting the nation’s most hazardous facilities before a catastrophic incident occurs,” OSHA administrator Doug Parker said in the release. “The results of a combustible dust fire or explosion can be catastrophic to workers and the facilities that they work.”


McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

Department of Labor announces enforcement guidance changes to save lives, target employers who put profit over safety

Original article published by OSHA

Photo: OSHA

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor announced that its Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued new enforcement guidance to make its penalties more effective in stopping employers from repeatedly exposing workers to life-threatening hazards or failing to comply with certain workplace safety and health requirements.

OSHA Regional Administrators and Area Office Directors now have the authority to cite certain types of violations as “instance-by-instance citations” for cases where the agency identifies “high-gravity” serious violations of OSHA standards specific to certain conditions where the language of the rule supports a citation for each instance of non-compliance. These conditions include lockout/tagout, machine guarding, permit-required confined space, respiratory protection, falls, trenching and for cases with other-than-serious violations specific to recordkeeping.

The change is intended to ensure OSHA personnel are applying the full authority of the Occupational Safety and Health Act where increased citations are needed to discourage non-compliance. The new guidance covers enforcement activity in general industry, agriculture, maritime and construction industries, and becomes effective 60 days from Jan. 26, 2023. The current policy has been in place since 1990 and applies only to egregious willful citations.

In a second action, OSHA is reminding its Regional Administrators and Area Directors of their authority not to group violations, and instead cite them separately to more effectively encourage employers to comply with the intent of the OSH Act.

“Smart, impactful enforcement means using all the tools available to us when an employer ‘doesn’t get it’ and will respond to only additional deterrence in the form of increased citations and penalties,” explained Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker. “This is intended to be a targeted strategy for those employers who repeatedly choose to put profits before their employees’ safety, health and wellbeing. Employers who callously view injured or sickened workers simply as a cost of doing business will face more serious consequences.”

These changes in enforcement guidance are important enforcement tools to help deter employers from disregarding their responsibilities to protect workers and ensure compliance with OSHA standards and regulations.

Existing guidance on instance-by-instance citations are outlined in the OSHA Field Operations Manual, and CPL 02-00-080, “Handling of Cases to be Proposed for Violation-by-Violation Penalties.”


McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

OSHA launches program to protect high-risk workers from coronavirus, focuses on employers that retaliate against workers with safety concerns

First published by OSHA

WASHINGTON, DC – In response to President Biden’s executive order on protecting worker health and safety, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has launched a national emphasis program focusing enforcement efforts on companies that put the largest number of workers at serious risk of contracting the coronavirus. The program also prioritizes employers that retaliate against workers for complaints about unsafe or unhealthy conditions, or for exercising other rights protected by federal law.

“This deadly pandemic has taken a staggering toll on U.S. workers and their families. We have a moral obligation to do what we can to protect workers, especially for the many who have no other protection,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Jim Frederick. “This program seeks to substantially reduce or eliminate coronavirus exposure for workers in companies where risks are high, and to protect workers who raise concerns that their employer is failing to protect them from the risks of exposure.”

NEP inspections will enhance the agency’s previous coronavirus enforcement efforts, and will include some follow-up inspections of worksites inspected in 2020. The program’s focused strategy ensures abatement and includes monitoring the effectiveness of OSHA’s enforcement and guidance efforts. The program will remain in effect for up to one year from its issuance date, though OSHA has the flexibility to amend or cancel the program as the pandemic subsides.

“With more people being vaccinated and the number of infections trending down, we know there is light at the end of the tunnel. But until we are past this pandemic workers deserve a Labor Department that is looking out for their health,” added Frederick.

OSHA state plans have adopted varying requirements to protect employees from coronavirus, and OSHA knows many of them have implemented enforcement programs similar to this NEP. While it does not require it, OSHA strongly encourages the rest to adopt this NEP. State plans must notify federal OSHA of their intention to adopt the NEP within 60 days after its issuance.

In a related action, OSHA has also updated its Interim Enforcement Response Plan to prioritize the use of on-site workplace inspections where practical, or a combination of on-site and remote methods. OSHA will only use remote-only inspections if the agency determines that on-site inspections cannot be performed safely. On March 18, 2021, OSHA will rescind the May 26, 2020, memorandum on this topic and this new guidance will go into and remain in effect until further notice.

OSHA will ensure that its Compliance Safety and Health Officers have every protection necessary for onsite inspections. When conducting on-site inspections, OSHA will evaluate all risk and utilize appropriate protective measures, including appropriate respiratory protection and other necessary personal protective equipment.


McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

OSHA’s actions during COVID-19 pandemic under review, DOL inspector general says

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Photo: House Committee on Oversight and Reform

Washington — The Department of Labor Office of Inspector General is reviewing OSHA’s enforcement activities and guidance amid the COVID-19 pandemic, DOL Inspector General Scott Dahl indicated during a House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee virtual briefing June 1.

Acknowledging that he was “very surprised” that OSHA had, at the time the briefing took place, issued only one COVID-19-related citation out of the thousands of complaints it has received, Dahl – who announced June 2 that he is retiring as inspector general June 21 – said his office will look into what can be done to make the agency’s enforcement activities “more efficient and effective.”

During a May 28 hearing convened by the House Workforce Protections Subcommittee, acting OSHA administrator Loren Sweatt said the agency can take up to six months to complete an investigation into a complaint, resulting in lag time before seeing tangible results.

Dahl said he doesn’t believe the lone OSHA citation “took months,” adding, “I think it was recently issued after OSHA was informed of [a violation] on May 5.”

As part of Phase 1 of the office’s four-phase Pandemic Response Oversight Plan, DOL OIG also will look at the numerous OSHA guidance materials issued during the pandemic, with an initial report expected to be released at the end of the month, Assistant Inspector General Elliot Lewis said.

Lewis added that DOL OIG will look at OSHA’s inspection activity and is coordinating with the Department of Agriculture OIG on issues regarding meatpacking or meat processing plants – a notable hot spot of COVID-19 infections.

According to its semiannual report to Congress, released June 1, DOL OIG also will examine OSHA’s plans for future pandemics.

Phase 2 of the plan – which will “evaluate OSHA’s efforts to protect people on the front lines of this pandemic” (including doctors, nurses, emergency responders and other health care workers) – is expected to be completed in September. The completion of Phase 3, which will include examining the pandemic’s impact on OSHA’s inspections and investigations, is anticipated in September 2021, while the final phase is “ongoing.”

Number of OSHA inspections at Trump-administration high, agency says

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Photo: OSHA

Washington — OSHA conducted 33,401 inspections in fiscal year 2019 – the largest total during the Trump administration.

A Dec. 3 press release from the agency states that a record 1,392,611 workers were trained on safety and health requirements via the various education programs, and its free On-Site Consultation Program identified nearly 138,000 workplace hazards.

“OSHA’s efforts – rulemaking, enforcement, compliance assistance and training – are tools to accomplish our mission of safety and health for every worker,” Loren Sweatt, the agency’s acting administrator, said in the release. “I am proud of the diligent, hard work of all OSHA personnel who contributed to a memorable year of protecting our nation’s workers.”

The total number of inspections is the most since FY 2015, when 35,820 were conducted. The agency conducted 31,948 inspections the next fiscal year, then 32,408 in FY 2017 and 32,023 in FY 2018.

Between FY 2010 and FY 2012, OSHA conducted more than 40,000 inspections each fiscal year and more than 38,000 annually from FY 2003 to FY 2013.

One likely reason for the fewer number of inspections since that stretch is a dwindling number of OSHA inspectors, also known as compliance safety and health officers. The agency had a record-low 875 CSHOs as of Jan. 1, according to a National Employment Law Project data brief issued in March. In an April 3 congressional appropriations hearing, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) pointed to a federal hiring freeze during the first year of President Donald Trump’s administration, as well as retirements and resignations, as factors.

To try to counteract that, the Department of Labor committed to adding 26 new full-time equivalent inspectors to the agency for FY 2019 after adding 76 CSHOs in FY 2018.

Then-Secretary of Labor R. Alexander Acosta testified during the April hearing that he expected inspections to increase once the new CSHOs were up to speed. In his written testimony for the hearing, Acosta acknowledged that it could take one to three years to get the inspectors working in the field unsupervised.