The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has announced a new regulation to take effect in the coming weeks, granting OSHA regional administrators the power to issue multiple citations for specific violations through “instance-by-instance citations.” The rule will replace the agency’s previous policy, which had been in place since 1990, and allowed only one citation for multiple violations of the same standard.

Under the new policy, OSHA regional administrators and area office directors will be able to issue instance-by-instance citations for severe violations of standards related to specific conditions, where the rule’s language supports a citation for each instance of non-compliance. The change aims to improve the agency’s enforcement efforts and reduce the frequency of severe workplace incidents.
The new regulation will allow OSHA to issue repeat citations for a range of serious safety hazards, including incidents related to lockout/tagout, machine guarding, permit-required confined spaces, respiratory protection, falls, and trenching. Additionally, citations can be issued for other-than-serious violations specific to recordkeeping.
According to the agency, the rule change aims to crack down on employers who have consistently failed to address workplace hazards. By enabling OSHA to issue multiple citations for specific instances of non-compliance, the new rule is expected to encourage employers to take a more proactive approach to workplace safety and reduce the likelihood of serious incidents occurring in the future.
“This is intended to be a targeted strategy for those employers who repeatedly choose to put profits before their employees’ safety, health, and wellbeing,” Doug Parker, assistant secretary for OSHA, said in the announcement. “Employers who callously view injured or sickened workers simply as a cost of doing business will face more serious consequences.”
A new set of guidelines for enforcement activity across general industry, agriculture, maritime, and construction will be implemented 60 days after Jan. 26th. The rule change provides OSHA with discretionary power and can be expected to be used sparingly in severe cases, primarily in cases of fatalities, multiple hospitalizations, or repeat offenses. However, even compliant contractors are not immune to the possibility of higher citations. Therefore, it will be essential for all builders to be compliant and avoid additional penalties in the event of an inspection. Proper documentation of work-related injuries and illnesses will be necessary to avoid substantial fines.