Legal Update: New OSHA Laws Affecting Employers

The 2023 legislative session ended on May 22, 2023, and legislators were active in passing laws that impact employers.

Ergonomics Program

The ergonomics program requirements apply to warehouse distribution center employers with 100 or more employees, meatpacking and poultry processing sites with 100 or more employees, and health care facilities. One-time funding of $2 million from the General Fund is included for ergonomics safety grants to be awarded to qualifying employers for projects designed to reduce the risk of ergonomic injury to their employees. This program is estimated to result in $12.6 million in workers’ compensation cost savings to employers from reductions in workplace ergonomic injuries.

Warehouse-Safety Rules

The law establishes workplace safety requirements for warehouse employers with 250 employees or more at one site or at least 1,000 employees across one or more warehouse distribution centers in the state. If a particular worksite or employer has an employee incidence rate at least 30% higher than that year’s average for the National American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes included in the law, the DLI commissioner will investigate violations under this law. Additionally, such employers must hold safety committee meetings monthly until the incidence rate is not 30% above the average for the relevant NAICS code.

Federal-OSHA-Penalty Matching

Federal OSHA penalty conformity is also a focus, with penalties under Minnesota Statutes, section 182.666 increased to conform with federal OSHA penalty levels. Penalties for willful and repeat violations are increased to a maximum of $156,259 for each violation, while penalties for serious violations, nonserious violations, failure to correct violations, and posting violations are increased to a maximum of $15,625 for each violation. Future increases are now tied to inflation, ensuring continued conformity to federal penalty levels and protecting the state-plan status of MNOSHA.

MNOSHA Compliance Citations

MNOSHA policy and technical changes include making MNOSHA Compliance citations public, clarifying employee interviews conducted by MNOSHA Compliance, updating language to clarify when a small employer needs a safety committee, providing MNOSHA with an expedited hearing process, and clarifying former MNOSHA employees are not subject to subpoena.

If you have questions about the laws and how they impact your business, please contact attorney Brendan Kenny at 952-746-2139 or [email protected].