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Increasing Stringency of OSHA Regulations

Written By Iniesta Estable on Thursday, July 19, 2012 | 5:48 AM

President Obama, along with the Democratic Congress, are working on increased safety in the workplace. While this can be a good thing for employees, it could demonstrate a fair amount of difficulty for staff working Human Resources with the passing of each new health and safety regulation.

Human Resources can be a very complex department to run, since legal precedents and new regulations go into effect on a constant basis. As adjustments have been implemented based on one week's changes, a new set of changes come in. On top of that, each of the 50 states has its own set of rules and regulations in addition to OSHA.

When regulations are broken, resulting in injury or illness to an employee, there are heavy fines to pay, severe legal penalties and law suits filed by employees with lawyers hungry for financial reward. All of this is part of the standard cost of business, but the costs get passed through to customers and taken out of pay and benefits for staff.

After recent Congressional hearings, proposed new regulations could possibly lead to an increase in criminal convictions and higher financial penalties in regards to violations of OSHA rules, along with additional funding for enforcement of regulations. Business will have to place higher emphasis on health and safety policies and implement more stringent procedures. Keeping a written record of all current and newly-implemented health and safety policies will be even more important than ever.

In California, CAL OSHA is increasing its own regulations, starting with car wash businesses. The industry has been hit with millions of dollars in fines, including those for violations regarding employee withholding tax and pay at below minimum wage, which is practically a standard across the entire car wash industry. Car wash employees are being incorporate into the Steel Workers Union, in a bid to California State to enforce the minimum wage laws.

If the new OSHA regulations are passed by Congress, it could mean criminal charges against corporate executives when accidents and injuries happen due to non-compliance with OSHA rules. Industry analysts are fearful of the effects this will have because it is a near-impossibility to implement and enforce every OSHA requirement within one place. It isn't even considered possible to know and understand all OSHA regulations, let alone comply with them.

The end results of this kind of action could be litigators going into overdrive, employers being heavily fined and/or jailed and jobs being lost to outsourcing centres in other countries.