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Great Question Podcast: Keeping Your Workers Safe in 2024
Great Question Podcast: Keeping Your Workers Safe in 2024
Great Question Podcast: Keeping Your Workers Safe in 2024
Great Question Podcast: Keeping Your Workers Safe in 2024
Great Question Podcast: Keeping Your Workers Safe in 2024

Great Question Podcast: Keeping Your Workers Safe in 2024

Jan. 25, 2024
In this episode of Great Question: A Manufacturing Podcast, the EHS Today editorial team discusses the issues that will be impacting safety professionals in 2024.

Dave Blanchard, editor-in-chief of EHS Today, recently spoke with managing editor Nicole Stempak and senior editor Adrienne Selko to examine some recent developments in occupational health and safety and what those changes might mean for safety professionals for the weeks and months to come. These developments include:

  • OSHA increasing civil penalty amounts
  • The U.S. Department of Labor introducing its independent contractor rule
  • OSHA inspectors switching from traditional hard hats to modern safety helmets
  • The effects of workplace stress on employee mental health

Below is an excerpt from the podcast:

First of all, as happens every year at this time, OSHA has increased the civil penalty amounts, which actually they're required to do by law. These are referred to as cost-of-living adjustments, but whatever you want to call them, these fines and penalties are going to be more expensive in 2024. These increases went into effect on January 16. So OSHA's maximum penalties for serious and other-than-serious violations will increase from $15,625 per violation. That was last year. In 2024, the maximum penalty is now going to be $16,131 per violation. The maximum penalty for willful or repeated violations will increase from $156,259 per violation to $161,323 per violation. Now, also, keep this in mind. All states that have their own occupational safety and health agencies are also required to adopt maximum penalty levels at the same level, if not higher, than federal OSHA. So if your company or organization is located in one of those states, you can expect to see those increases as well.

Now, OSHA, of course, is an agency within the U.S. Department of Labor. And the Department of Labor recently announced a new rule that has met with more than the usual amount of controversy. So, on January 9, the Department of Labor announced its independent contractor rule.

Some people are saying that this is a long-overdue correction to the job status for workers who basically work for a single company, but they're considered as independent contractors, which means no health care benefits, no 401k, no overtime, things that regular employees get. So the DOL says that's not right. And the new rule will provide guidance on how to properly classify these types of workers so they can get minimum wage and overtime pay, among other things, as you would expect.

There are a lot of stipulations and conditions and exceptions as to who qualifies and doesn't qualify as an independent contractor. The rule, as the Department of Labor describes it, provides guidance on proper classification and seeks to combat employee misclassification. So the DOL says that misclassification can lead to things like wage theft, which allows some employers to undercut their competition on salaries.

About the Author

Dave Blanchard

During his career, Dave Blanchard has led the editorial management of many of Endeavor Business Media's best-known brands, including IndustryWeekEHS Today, Material Handling & LogisticsLogistics Today, Supply Chain Technology News, and Business Finance. In addition, he serves as senior content director of the annual Safety Leadership Conference. With over 30 years of B2B media experience, Dave literally wrote the book on supply chain management, Supply Chain Management Best Practices (John Wiley & Sons, 2021), which has been translated into several languages and is currently in its third edition. He is a frequent speaker and moderator at major trade shows and conferences and has won numerous awards for writing and editing. He is a voting member of the jury of the Logistics Hall of Fame and is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.