A new bill that would mandate prison time for willful violations of Occupational Safety and Health Administration rules could undermine relationships with the construction industry, according to an OSHA official in Wisconsin. "There are some employers that need extra motivation, but it's dangerous when penalties become a factor of doing business," said Kim Stille, area director for Madison's OSHA office. Stille also said her office would not be able to enforce the Protecting America's Workers Act with current staffing levels if the bill becomes law.
At least 12 contractors face federal fines for alleged workplace safety violations related to work done on rooftops following hail storms last year in Albany, N.Y. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has levied fines totaling $266,825, including "willful citations" that indicate intentional disregard to worker safety.
Legislation proposed this week by House Democrats would boost fines for violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Lawmakers who support changes, which are aimed at increasing worker protection, say current OSHA law is not strict enough. If passed, the fine for civil penalties for willful violations would rise from the current $70,000 to $120,000.
OSHA has joined with the Wisconsin Underground Contractors Association to work to improve the safety of underground construction. The two-year alliance is part of a larger effort by OSHA to work with others to improve workplace safety conditions.
OSHA has released a new set of guidelines to help reduce musculoskeletal disorders among shipyard workers. The new guidelines focus on solutions that have worked for some shipyards across the nation and provide examples of ways to prevent ergonomics-related risk factors.