OSHA Getting Tough Under Obama

It appears that President Obama and the Democratic Congress is all over the worker safety issue, and this should prove rather tricky for human resource departments as new regulations get passed. You see, the field of human resources is very complicated and it’s almost impossible to keep up with; there are new legal cases setting precedence each week, and new regulations going into effect; and each state has slightly different laws on top of the overriding OSHA rules.

The fines are stiff, the penalties are progressive, and lawyers and employees look for ways to go after the company’s nest egg or deep pockets. Well, once deep pockets anyway, as this recession hasn’t left much of a legal war chest or safe full of cash for settlements. Yes, it is considered a cost of doing business, but all this gets passed on to the consumer and results in lower pay and fewer benefits for employees.

Congressional Hearings:

During the last round of congressional hearings on the OSHA rules – according to Human Resource Executives Online Newsletter; “The potential for criminal convictions and increased financial penalties for OSHA violations — coupled with an increased funding for enforcement activities — mean that companies need to refocus on their health-and-safety policies and procedures. An emphasis on recordkeeping is also a necessity.” (*incidentally, if you are a human resources professional I highly recommend that you consider subscribing to this invaluable email newsletter).

California Going After OSHA Violations at Car Washes:

Looks as if CAL OSHA in California is getting a head start and going after carwash industry these past months, and racked up millions in fines, along with employee withholding violations and paying less than minimum wage. Something the car wash industry is notoriously negligent of, if not criminally intent-ful. Even the Steel Workers Union has been busy organizing car wash workers into their own little union offshoot of their group, while lobbying the state of California to enforce the law.

If Congress passes these new OSHA regulations corporate executives could receive felony criminal penalties when employee injuries occur and OSHA rules have not been properly complied with, and this is scaring many industry analysts because it is nearly impossible to comply with all the OSHA laws. Let me explain. If you stacked all the pages of OSHA laws on top of each other they would be over 50 stories high. No one can be expected to know all that.

Of course, lawyers that litigate workplace accidents will have a field day with this, while business people who provide jobs will be thrown in jail and disgorged of all their assets. If this doesn’t send jobs off shore or to the third world, I do not know what would. Think on this.