OSHA first proposed a rule on Slips, Trips and Falls in 1990. Since that time, many employers have taken advantage of this proposed rule in making certain arguments related to Citations issued under Subpart D, the Walking-Working Surfaces regulations. If you never used this argument, you may be wondering how a proposed rule could help an employer arguing against a Citation issued under a current regulation. OSHA has long recognized that compliance with a proposed rule, such as OSHA’s Slips, Trips and Falls Rule would be considered a de minimis violation.
See, e.g. https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=INTERPRETATIONS&p_id=27295
Why is a de minimis a “good” violation to receive? De Minimis violations carry no penalty or requirement for abatement. It, in essence, sanctions the status quo of the cited condition. With the withdrawal of this rule, after being in existence for over 25 years, employers will no longer be able to rely upon compliance with this proposed rule. The OSHA interpretation referenced above is one of many similar letters that refer to the proposed rule and the de minimis language. It remains to be seen what OSHA will do with these letters now that there is no longer a proposed rule. Stay tuned….