January 29, 2016 introduced changes to the categories of small business exemptions from programmed health and safety inspections. These updated categories come from a directive to Regional Administrators and State Plan Designees from the Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, Dr. David Michaels.
Exemptions were determined by OSHA for workplaces and industries with 10 or fewer employees deemed low hazard. Low hazard industries were qualified upon reviewing survey results submitted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to employers. The information collected examined employees’ ability to perform normal job duties due to illness or workplace injury. Industries with a low occurrence were included on the updated list.
There are over 400 newly exempt industries; among those small businesses included are soybean processing, buffets, farm product warehousing, and electrical contractors.
Along with newly included industries, there are several small business industries no longer recognized as exempt by OSHA from inspections. Some of these are retail bakeries, electronic and computer stores, pension funds, and veterinary services.
If an employee in an exempt industry does suffer a work related injury or fatality or if an employee lodges a complaint to OSHA, employers should be aware they are still at risk for an OSHA inspection, even if they have 10 or fewer employees.