SB 592 OSHA inspection of all workplace fatalities with increased penalties

Signed into law by Gov Kotek, 5-24-23, effective immediately
Status (overview) of bill:

This bill requires the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA) to conduct “comprehensive inspections” whenever a fatality occurred, even if the fatality were the result of an accident. Since inspection is tied to negative outcomes, not negative behaviors, comprehensive inspections triggered by accidents would not foster safer workplaces. Instead, they would place a heavy burden on businesses by allowing OSHA to perform incredibly broad facility-wide inspections.

The bill would perversely punish and discriminate against small businesses.  The one-size-fits-all approach to inspections and penalties has the potential to destroy small and family-owned businesses, small enterprises that may not have the means to employ exemplary legal counsel, or absorb the high penalty exposure as would a larger business.

-1 Amendment proposes post-violation and post-accident  inspections, increased civil penalties and necessary reporting that may lead to citation and inspection quotas. The bill would have marginal or counter-productive affects that would actually discourage employer  investment in safety measures, particularly on forestry jobsites.

The bill would perversely pit OR-OSHA against employers, rather than employing cooperation and coordination in the pursuit of safer and better outcomes. Punitive measures would impact employers directly when an employee makes a bad decision, no matter how well the employee had been trained, supervised, or prepared for the job and safety measures to protect them. This bill would punish the employer for employee mis-performance.

The bill increased penalties are aimed at increasing Oregon’s penalties so they are not the lowest fines in the nation – serious violations are more than 73% below than national standard. But, it will not necessarily lead to safer outcomes. Businesses in Oregon already struggle to navigate the state’s complex workplace safety laws, and many of them who believe they are taking the steps necessary to keep their workforce safe could be significantly penalized for mistakes, not willful acts.

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