Maine Department of Labor Urges Businesses to Ensure Safety Standards are Compliant Bookmark and Share

August 9, 2016

Employers must meet new federal guidelines on reporting workplace injuries by August 10

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 9, 2016 Contact: Julie Rabinowitz, 207-621-5009

AUGUSTA—The Maine Department of Labor’s SafetyWorks! training and safety consultation program advises Maine employers to review the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) new rules that go into effect this month. Businesses should also be aware that OSHA fines increased by 78 percent on Aug. 1, 2016.

“Maine businesses can access no-cost support services to help them comply with workplace safety and health regulations and decrease the risk of associated OSHA fines—It’s called SafetyWorks!,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “Fines can run a business thousands of dollars, but workplace accidents bring harsher costs—worker’s comp claims, lost productivity and, most troubling, injured or killed workers. SafetyWorks! provides no-cost workplace reviews, noting hazards and helping businesses better meet the requirements of the law.”

Commissioner of Labor Jeanne Paquette noted, “SafetyWorks! helps employers be prepared for OSHA inspections. Consultations are confidential by law, and can help you identify a potential hazard before it causes a problem for workers or is found in an inspection.”

“There are three specific items related to OSHA that employers should know and address as soon as possible,” added the commissioner. “These are understanding the new penalties, ensuring that you have a reporting procedure for workers and have informed them of it, being aware of whether any of your occupations are on the high-hazard list for OSHA inspections. As part of this compliance, employers need to make sure they have posted the most up-to-date required posters, which can be downloaded for free at the Maine Department of Labor’s website ( ).”

The New Penalties

For private-sector employers in Maine, federal OSHA’s maximum penalties, last adjusted in 1990, increased by 78 percent effective Aug. 1. The penalties will be annually adjusted for inflation each year. Any citations issued by OSHA on or after Aug. 1 will be subject to the new penalties.

Public-sector employers that fall under the Maine Department of Labor’s workplace safety jurisdiction will not be subject to this penalty increase at this time.

What Employers Must Do

OSHA has adopted changes to the Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses ( ) that do not add to or change an employer's obligation to complete and retain injury and illness records under the regulation, but address an employee's right to report injuries and illnesses without fear of retaliation. The new rule also phases in the electronic reporting of injury data.

OSHA’s changes to  1904.35 and 1904.36 take effect Aug. 10, 2016. As of that date, employers must inform employees of their right to report work-related injuries and illnesses free from retaliation. Posting the April 2015 or newer version of OSHA’s “Job Safety and Health — It’s The Law” poster ( ) meets this requirement. An employer must also have a procedure for reporting work-related injuries and illnesses that is reasonable and must not deter or discourage employees from reporting.

OSHA’s 2016 High-Hazard Occupations Focus

OSHA’s New England Regional Emphasis Program is focusing on high-hazard occupations that may cross several industries, with several occupations related—but not limited—to construction topping the list. These include:

Fall Hazards [PDF - ]

Crane Operation in Construction [PDF - ]

Residential Construction [PDF - ]

Mast Climbing Work Platforms [PDF - ]

Crystalline Silica Exposure in Construction [PDF - ]

Powered Industrial Trucks [PDF - ]

And Noise in the Workplace [PDF - ].

All employers, but especially those whose workplace conditions appear on this list, can arrange for a free, on-site, confidential consultation from SafetyWorks!, a program of the Maine Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Standards. SafetyWorks! provides a trained consultant with industry-specific expertise who will review the facility by appointment. The consultation may include such elements as recognizing safety hazards, sampling for air and noise exposures, recommending ways to reduce or to eliminate hazards, developing or improving a safety program, complying with federal OSHA regulations and identifying training needs.

Employers who meet certain standards and have a safety injury/illness rate below their industry average may also qualify for a program that exempts their worksite from OSHA inspections for up to two years.

For more information about SafetyWork!’s services, contact SafetyWorks! at 1-877-SAFE 345 (1-877-723-3345) or . SafetyWorks! is not OSHA and cannot issue fines or citations to private businesses. While SafetyWorks! helps businesses of any size, priority is given to small businesses. The program trains about 8,000 people and consults at nearly 1,000 worksites in Maine each year.