WASHINGTON – Repeat violators of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) health and safety standards in construction and other industries may face more severe penalties starting in March.

OSHA issued a memo on Thursday stating OSHA regional administrators and area office directors can now cite certain types of violations as “instance-by-instance citations” for cases where the agency identifies “high-gravity” serious violations of OSHA standards where the language of the rule supports a citation for each instance of non-compliance. 

These conditions include lockout/tagout, machine guarding, permit-required confined space, respiratory protection, falls, trenching and for cases with other-than-serious violations specific to recordkeeping.

According to the agency, these changes in enforcement guidance "help deter employers from disregarding their responsibilities to protect workers and ensure compliance with OSHA standards and regulations."

In addition to these changes, OSHA is advising regional administrators and area directors of their authority to issue citations separately instead of grouping them together to encourage employers to comply with safety standards.

“Smart, impactful enforcement means using all the tools available to us when an employer ‘doesn’t get it’ and will respond to only additional deterrence in the form of increased citations and penalties,” said Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker. “This is intended to be a targeted strategy for those employers who repeatedly choose to put profits before their employees’ safety, health and well-being. Employers who callously view injured or sickened workers simply as a cost of doing business will face more serious consequences.”

The new guidance covers enforcement activity in general industry, agriculture, maritime and construction industries, and becomes effective 60 days from Jan. 26, 2023. The current policy has been in place since 1990 and applies only to egregious willful citations.