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A quick look at how Senate Bill 592 changes OSHA penalties

WSRCA Senate Bill 592
November 14, 2023 at 6:00 p.m.

By Western States Roofing Contractors Association (WSRCA). 

WRSCA has been keeping an eye on the 2023 senate votes and are here to advocate for roofing contractors in their area.  

The 82nd Oregon Legislative Assembly recently passed Senate Bill 592, which changes the civil penalties for violations of Oregon Safe Employment laws. The experts at Western States Roofing Contractors Association (WSRCA) offer a brief overview of what has changed and what WSRCA members think about these changes  

With the recent passage of Senate Bill 592, the Oregon Legislature has dramatically augmented the range of civil penalties on employers who violate Oregon Safe Employment laws. Previously, Oregon law imposed only the minimum civil penalties prescribed under the federal OSHA. Effective May 24, 2023, the minimum penalty for a single serious violation has now nearly quadrupled, from $300 to $1,116, while the minimum penalty for repeated violations has skyrocketed from $200 to $11,162 — a difference of more than 5,000 percent. 

Severe increases are prescribed for violations resulting in employee fatalities and for failures to correct violations after citation. In cases involving penalties for repeated willful or serious violations, any penalty reduction must be conditioned upon the employer’s agreement to comply with “additional abatement measures as determined by the state agency.” 

Small business employers will find it more difficult to obtain any downward adjustment on assessed penalties based on the employers’ size. 

The new law substantially broadens the state agency’s investigatory powers and responsibilities. The Director of the Department of Consumer and Business Services is now authorized to conduct a “comprehensive inspection of any place of employment as deemed necessary by the department based upon the prior violation history of the place of employment regarding any state occupational safety or health law, regulation, standard, rule or order.” The director is now required to conduct a comprehensive inspection in cases involving work-related fatalities or whenever three or more willful or repeated violations occur within a one-year period. What constitutes a "comprehensive inspection" now falls within the professional judgement of the inspector from case to case. 

The state agency must submit at least annually a report summarizing the total number and amount of penalties assessed, the total number of appeals of citations, violation and penalty assessment and the total number of inspections completed by the department. The first report is due no later than September 15, 2024.  

Now is the time for Oregon employers to review their health and safety policies and procedures, identify potential risks – particularly risks associated with any past OSHA violations in their employer's history, and develop plans to mitigate or eliminate those risks. Employers cited for violations now have great incentive to appeal those citations and to remain fully informed about their rights and obligations under the Oregon Safe Employment Act.  

As a response to SB 592 – Western States Roofing Contractors Association and Associated Roofing Contractors of Oregon & Southwest Washington sent a position statement to the Department of Consumer and Business Services (Oregon OSHA) voicing the concerns of Oregon roofing contractors, and how SB 592 has the potential to harm businesses throughout the State. 

Original article source: Western States Roofing Contractors Association (WSRCA)

Learn more about Western States Roofing Contractors Association (WSRCA) at www.wsrca.com.



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