Occupational Health and Safety Announcements
Civil Penalty Adjustments NEW
In November 2015, Congress enacted the Federal Civil Penalties Adjustment Act of 2015 ("FCPAA") requiring Federal agencies, including OSHA, to adjust their penalties to account for inflation. Pub. L. I 14- 74 (Nov. 2, 2015) 129 Stat. 599. Such inflation adjustments had not been made to OSHA penalties since 1990.
On July 1, 2016, Federal OSHA published a Final Rule to increase federal penalties as prescribed by Congress; Federal OSHA concurrently notified all state plans of their obligation to make an "at least as effective" change to state maximum penalties. Establishments located in states under Federal OSHA jurisdiction were required to comply with the new requirements on August 1, 2016. In October, 2016, the New Mexico Environment Department notified Federal OSHA of the State's intent to seek legislation during the 2017 session to increase statutory maximum penalties in accordance with Federal law.
Senate Bill 229 ("SB 229"), signed into law on April 6, 2017, amended the Occupational Health and Safety Act, 50-9 NMSA 1978, to adjust maximum and minimum penalties in conformance with Federal law. The legislation conforms to the requirements of the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Act, the FCPAA, and Federal OSHA rules for approval of State occupational health and safety plans.
The penalty levels contained in the New Mexico OHSB
Penalty Policy reflect increases to maximum, minimum and assessed penalties, to conform with SB 229 and in response to increased penalty assessments by OSHA. This policy is effective for all citations issued on or after
April 2, 2018
Maximum Civil Penalties
|Type of Violation
Old Penalty Levels
New Penalty Levels
| Willful or Repeat
| Other than Serious
| Failure to Abate
New Mexico Enforcement of OSHA Silica Rule
In accordance with federal requirements, the New Mexico Occupational Health and Safety Bureau will begin enforcement of the federal Respirable Crystalline Silica construction standard, 29 CFR § 1926.1153, on September 23, 2017. New Mexico will also adopt the guidance contained in the attached memorandum describing instructions for initiating compliance assistance and enforcement efforts.
The Interim Enforcement Guidance Memo for the Respirable Crystalline Silica in Construction Standard was issued on October 19, 2017, OSHA will fully enforce all appropriate provisions of the Silica in Construction standard. The memorandum provides inspection and citation guidance, and it includes flow charts to assist compliance officers with evaluating employers’ control methods.
Addition information and resources are available on the Silica Safety and Health Topics Page
PSM Covered Chemical Facilities National Emphasis Program
Federal OSHA revised the National Emphasis Program (NEP) for inspecting facilities with highly hazardous chemicals (HHCs) in amounts at or greater than the threshold quantities listed in 29 CFR 1910.119. The new Process Safety Management Covered Chemical Facilities National Emphasis Program (CPL 03-00-021) instruction replaces the old directive, CPL 03-00-014, which was issued on November 29, 2011.
This new instruction provides guidance to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) national, regional, area, and State Plan offices for implementing and conducting an NEP to reduce or eliminate workplace hazards associated with the catastrophic release of highly hazardous chemicals at facilities, including petroleum refineries, covered by OSHA’s Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals (PSM) standard, 29 CFR 1910.119. Both programmed and unprogrammed inspections associated with this NEP will begin on May 1, 2017 in New Mexico.
This new instruction describes an updated initiative by OSHA. Under the previous related instructions, OSHA conducted inspections of facilities covered by OSHA’s PSM standard either through an instruction specific to petroleum refineries or an instruction related to all other PSM-covered chemical facilities excluding petroleum refineries. This instruction is applicable to all facilities, including petroleum refineries, covered by the PSM standard. NEP inspections conducted at petroleum refineries will be conducted in the same manner as NEP inspections conducted at all other facilities covered by this instruction.
OHSB Process Safety Management Webpage
Walking-Working Surfaces and Fall Protection
OSHA issues final rule updating walking-working surfaces standards and establishing personal fall protection systems requirements
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a final rule on November 18, 2016 updating its general industry Walking-Working Surfaces standards specific to slip, trip, and fall hazards. The rule also includes a new section under the general industry Personal Protective Equipment standards that establishes employer requirements for using personal fall protection systems. The rule becomes effective on Jan. 17, 2017,
but some provisions have delayed effective dates.
The final rule's most significant update is allowing employers to select the fall protection system that works best for them, choosing from a range of accepted options including personal fall protection systems. OSHA has permitted the use of personal fall protection systems in construction since 1994 and the final rule adopts similar requirements for general industry. The final rule increases consistency between general and construction industries, which will help employers and workers that work in both industries.
Other changes include allowing employers to use rope descent systems up to 300 feet above a lower level; prohibiting the use of body belts as part of a personal fall arrest system; and requiring worker training on personal fall protection systems and fall equipment.
OSHA Silica Final Rule
OSHA announces final rule to improve U.S. workers' protection from the dangers of respirable silica dust
OSHA today announced a final rule to improve protections for workers exposed to respirable silica dust. The rule will curb lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and kidney disease in America's workers by limiting their exposure to respirable crystalline silica
"The previous exposure limits were outdated and did not adequately protect workers," said OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels. "Limiting exposure to silica dust is essential. Every year, many exposed workers not only lose their ability to work, but also to breathe. Today, we are taking action to bring worker protections into the 21st century in ways that are feasible and economical for employers to implement."
About 2.3 million men and women face exposure to respirable crystalline silica in their workplaces, including two million construction workers who drill and cut materials such as concrete and stone, and 300,000 workers in operations such as brick manufacturing, foundries and hydraulic fracturing. OSHA estimates that when the final rule becomes fully effective, it will save more than 600 lives annually and prevent more than 900 new cases of silicosis – an incurable and progressive disease – each year. The agency also estimates the final rule will provide net benefits of about $7.7 billion per year
A worker cutting granite using a saw that applies water to the blade. The water reduces the amount of silica-containing dust that gets into the air.
Most employers can limit harmful dust exposure by using equipment that is widely available – generally using water to keep dust from getting into the air or a ventilation system to remove it from the air. The rule provides greater compliance assistance to construction employers – many of which run small businesses – by including a table of specified controls they can follow to be in compliance. The rule also staggers compliance dates to ensure employers have sufficient time to meet its requirements.
The final rule is written as two standards, one for construction and one for general industry and maritime. In addition to reducing the the permissible exposure limit for crystalline silica, the rule includes employer requirements such as limiting worker exposure through work practices and engineering controls (such as water or ventilation); providing respiratory protection when controls are insufficient; training workers; limiting their access to high exposure areas and providing medical exams to highly exposed workers.
For more information, see the news release—available in English and Spanish—and a blog post by U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez, which includes a video featuring one worker's personal experience with silicosis. Visit OSHA's silica rule webpage for factsheets, answers to frequently asked questions, and to sign up for email updates on compliance dates and resources.
On September 18, 2014, federal OSHA published a final rule for 29 CFR 1904.39 (see Federal Register Notice below) which expanded the list of severe work-related injuries that all covered employers must report to OSHA. The revised rule retained the requirement to report all work-related fatalities within 8 hours and added the requirement to report all work-related in-patient hospitalizations, amputations and loss of an eye within 24 hours to OSHA. Establishments located in states under Federal OSHA jurisdiction were required to comply with the new requirements on January 1, 2015.
New Mexico OSHA determined it would seek amendment of the incorporating state rule (18.104.22.168 NMAC) prior to adopting the federal rule change to eliminate potential confusion regarding the exception language in Subsection B of the state rule. The Environmental Improvement Board (EIB) heard the requested rule change on May 15, 2015 and approved the change with a publication in the New Mexico Register on June 16, 2015 (see link below) and an effective date of July 16, 2015.
Federal Register Notice for Regulatory Change (20140918)
29 CFR 1904.39 https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=STANDARDS&p_id=12783
New Mexico Register Notice http://22.214.171.124/nmregister/xxvi/xxvi11/11.5.1amend.htm
NM OSHA will delay full enforcement of the additional requirements of 29 CFR 1904.39 until January 1, 2016, as outlined in the temporary enforcement directive below.
NM OSHA Temporary Enforcement Directive