New Compliance Manual for OSHA Inspectors Released

Posted October 7, 2015 at 11:35 pm

Inspectors from OSHA have a new manual to guide them through the inspection and abatement process. On Oct. 6, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued an updated Field Operations Manual.

The 280-page guide includes more than 30 revisions to OSHA policies and guidance and information about rule changes enacted since the last edition of the manual was released in April 2011.

According to an OSHA spokeswoman the “change did not launch new policy but does clarify existing policy.” Among the updates are the new reporting requirements for amputations and hospitalizations, the procedure for communicating with the families of victims, the agency’s revised penalty procedures and a new chapter covering when other federal agencies may pre-empt OSHA jurisdiction.

While the manual is intended for OSHA staff, it provides employers, safety officers and others with information on how inspections are conducted and the follow-up steps such as post-inspection conferences between OSHA and employers and the appeals process.

The revised manual instructs inspectors that if they believe an employer's safety incentive policies are “unsound,” the compliance officer or area director may request assistance from their regional office to help determine if the policy is counter to a March 2013 guidance memo covering safety incentive policies and practices. The memo warned that incentives couldn't discriminate against workers who reported injuries.

Another change is a revised chart for calculating proposed “gravity-based penalties” for alleged serious violations. The “gravity” of a violation is a calculation of the likely severity of an injury the hazard could lead to and the likelihood of an injury occurring.

The new chart increases penalties in all categories. For instance, on the 2011 chart, the maximum penalty for a “moderate gravity” serious violation penalty was $3,500. The new chart incorporates updated polices that allow fines as high as $6,000 for the same violation.

Click here for a copy of the newly revised 2015 manual.