OSHA's New Plan for Workplace Safety in 2023
By: Benjamin Merrill
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the federal agency responsible for ensuring safe and healthy working conditions for employees across the United States. In January 2023, OSHA announced an aggressive new plan to address workplace safety, including several key initiatives aimed at reducing injuries and fatalities in the workplace. The Biden administration is focused on increasing its investigation and enforcement activity against employers in the coming months/years.
In this post, we will take a closer look at OSHA's new initiatives and provide some tips for employers on how they can improve workplace safety.
OSHA's New Plan for Workplace Safety in 2023
OSHA's new plan for workplace safety in 2023 has several key areas that will attempt to improve working conditions for employees across the country. These initiatives include:
- Strengthening Enforcement: OSHA will be strengthening enforcement efforts by increasing the number of inspections and citations issued for workplace violations. OSHA also plans to increase its use of their subpoena powers during their initial investigations. These changes should help OSHA ensure employers are taking appropriate measures to keep their workers safe and healthy.
- Targeting High-Risk Industries: OSHA has indicated its intention to target high-risk industries, such as construction and manufacturing, to help reduce the number of injuries and fatalities in these sectors.
- Emphasizing Prevention: OSHA will place greater emphasis on the prevention of injuries by encouraging employers to identify and address potential hazards before they result in injuries or illnesses.
- Improving Data Collection: OSHA will attempt to improve its data collection efforts to better track workplace injuries and illnesses. This should help OSHA identify trends and areas for improvement in workplace safety.
Tips for Employers to Improve Workplace Safety
As an employer, there are several things you can do to improve workplace safety and comply with OSHA regulations. Here are some tips to get you started:
- Review your safety policies and procedures: Employers should review their safety policies and procedures to ensure they are up-to-date and meet OSHA requirements. This includes policies related to infectious disease prevention, heat illness prevention, and workplace violence prevention. Employers should also review their procedures for reporting workplace injuries and illnesses and ensure they comply with OSHA's recordkeeping requirements.
- Conduct Regular Safety Inspections: Regular safety inspections can help you identify potential hazards in the workplace and take steps to address them before they result in injuries or illnesses. Inspections should be conducted by trained professionals who are familiar with OSHA regulations and industry best practices.
- Provide Proper Training: Proper training is essential for ensuring that employees are aware of potential hazards and know how to stay safe on the job. This includes training on the proper use of equipment, safe work practices, emergency procedures, and the new rules related to infectious disease prevention, heat illness prevention, and workplace violence prevention.
- Encourage Employee Participation: Employees are often the first line of defense when it comes to identifying potential hazards in the workplace. Encourage your employees to report any safety concerns or incidents and take their feedback into account when making decisions about workplace safety.
- Maintain Proper Recordkeeping: Proper recordkeeping is essential for complying with OSHA regulations and tracking workplace injuries and illnesses. Make sure you are keeping accurate records of all workplace incidents and use this information to identify areas for improvement in workplace safety.
- Provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Personal protective equipment, such as hard hats, safety glasses, and gloves, can help to protect workers from potential hazards on the job. Make sure you are providing the appropriate PPE for each job and training employees on its proper use.
- Respond promptly to safety concerns: Employers should respond promptly to safety concerns raised by employees or identified during safety inspections. This includes investigating the concern, taking steps to address the hazard, and communicating the resolution to employees. Employers should also encourage employees to report safety concerns and provide a mechanism for doing so.
- Create a Culture of Safety: Creating a culture of safety starts at the top. As an employer, it is your responsibility to prioritize workplace safety and communicate this priority to your employees. This includes holding regular safety meetings, encouraging open communication about safety concerns, and providing resources for employees to learn more about workplace safety.
- Seek assistance if needed: Employers who are unsure about how to comply with OSHA requirements or who need assistance in improving workplace safety should seek assistance from OSHA or a qualified safety consultant. OSHA offers a variety of resources to help employers understand their obligations under the law and improve workplace safety.
OSHA's new plan for workplace safety in 2023 is a positive step towards improving working conditions for employees across the United States. Strengthening enforcement, targeting high-risk industries, emphasizing prevention, and improving data collection efforts, these measures should help ensure that employers are taking appropriate measures to keep their workers safe and healthy.
However, these changes could lead to increased attention by OSHA officials to certain companies' operations. As an employer, it is your responsibility to comply with OSHA regulations and prioritize workplace safety. Each employer should consider retaining counsel early to assist with the navigation of initial OSHA investigation efforts and/or proposed citations. This is particularly important for employers in those industries OSHA plans to heavily target its increased enforcement activities such as heavy labor and manufacturing industries. Either way, by conducting regular safety inspections, providing proper training and PPE, encouraging employee participation, maintaining proper recordkeeping, and creating a culture of safety, employers can be proactive in limiting injuries and future OSHA violations.