Workplace Safety and Law Development Expected in 2012

 Increased number of follow-up inspections and violations:OSHA now treats related workplaces within a corporate family as one workplace for the purposes of repeated violations as opposed to past practice where the agency treated seperate workplaces as individual, independant establishments.OSHA now reviews past violations, back to five years, to form basis for repeated violations. In the past, the agency was limited its review to the previous three years.OSHA now selects inspection targets with past violations with the goal of finding and citing more repeated violations, while in the past a workplace was likely to be revisted within a few years of an initial inspection.   Change in Reporting requirements: New changes will require employers to report to the agency within eight hours of workplace injury that results in a fatality or in-patient hospitalization of a single employee, and report work-related amputations.  Because OSHA is required to investigate reportable incidents, this rule will result in more OSHA inspections. Refocusing on Ergonomics:OSHA has finally identified a strategy for enforcing ergonomics in the workplace without formally implementing an ergonomics standard.  OSHA will enforce ergonomic hazards through the General Duty Clause by cross referencing “non-mandatory” guidance documents that OSHA has issued, or similar guidance documents authored by industry associations.  Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals:OSHA’s efforts to align its hazard communication standard with the Global Harmonization System for Classifying and Labeling Hazardous Chemicals will be finalized early this year.  This means a complete facelift for Material Safety Data Sheets, and U.S. employers will have to update their MSDS’s safety labels and employee training to accommodate the new system.