Oregon OSHA – Senate Bill 592A Significantly Expands Oregon OSHA Investigation Authority and Substantially Increases Civil Penalties.
Oregon lawmakers have approved a bill that expands OSHA investigation authority and increase the penalties businesses face when they violate workplace safety rules. Governor Tina Kotek is expected to approve and the bill will go into effect immediately. The bill creates significant changes to the Oregon Safe Employment Act including:
- Allowing for “comprehensive inspection of any place of employment as deemed necessary by the department based upon the prior violation history of the place of employment.”
- Broadening investigation parameters for work-related fatalities and repeat violations. Whenever three or more willful or repeated violations occur within a one-year period OSHA is now required to conduct a comprehensive inspection.
- Substantially increasing civil penalties, with annual adjustments based on the CPI.
- No longer allowing for penalty adjustments based on employer size unless employer agrees to comply with additional abatement measures
Permitting comprehensive inspections means Oregon OSHA has wall-to-wall jurisdiction over an entire worksite, without the need to establish probable cause of a violation, based solely on what the inspector deems necessary. Without a defined look back period, an employer with any citation history, no matter how long ago, would be subject to a comprehensive inspection at the discretion of the Oregon OSHA. The bill would also require Oregon OSHA, to raise its minimum fines in some cases by more than 1000%. For example, the bill requires Oregon OSHA to issue fines between $1,116 and $15,625 for each serious violation. Currently, the division’s minimum adjusted fine for a serious violation is only $100. If a serious violation contributed to a worker’s death, the bill requires Oregon OSHA to issue a penalty of $20,000 to $50,000 for each violation. Currently, the agency’s maximum fine for a serious violation contributing to a workplace death is $13,653, unless it was a willful or repeated violation. Under the bill, employers would also receive fines between $11,162 and $156,259 for each willful or repeated violation, or between $50,000 and $250,000 if the willful or repeated violation contributes to an employee’s death.
The expanded inspection authority and increased penalties will have a significant impact on all Oregon employers and an even greater impact on smaller employers. The bill will likely incentivize employers to bolster their safety programs. Please remember Oregon OSHA provides free and confidential consultation services. OSHA consultants in workplace safety, industrial hygiene, and ergonomics can help you reduce accidents and related costs and help you develop a comprehensive program to manage safety and health. If you have any further questions regarding SB 592A , please do not hesitate to contact me at 503-595-2136 or .
Posted by Stephen Verotsky.