OSHA Issues Updated Version of Its Field Operations Manual
Last month, OSHA issued the latest update to its Field Operations Manual (FOM), the most recent update since a prior update in 2009. Significantly, OSHA’s FOM serves as a reference document for OSHA field personnel, providing enforcement policies and procedures relating to OSHA investigations and enforcement proceedings. This nearly 300-page manual contains 16 chapters addressing all aspects of the inspection and enforcement process, including, for example, chapters on “inspection procedures,” “violations,” “penalties and debt collection,” and “post-citation procedures and abatement verification.” In basic terms, the FOM shows much of what OSHA does, how it does it, and the respective rights of employers and OSHA. It serves as an instructional tool for both OSHA inspectors and employers alike. A complete copy of the 2015 updated Field Operations Manual can be found here.
Among other things, the updated FOM includes multiple revisions to the chapter on penalties, including penalty adjustment factors. This information should be of interest to any employer who, upon receipt of a citation from OSHA, might be tempted to simply reach for the checkbook and pay the penalties. Importantly, penalty adjustments may be implemented by OSHA based on a cited company’s “size” (with a maximum possible penalty reduction of 60%), “good faith” (maximum penalty reduction of 25%), and “history of previous violations” (or lack thereof) (possible 10% reduction). The FOM specifies how an employer might qualify for one or more of these penalty adjustments.