OSHA Penalties Increase for the First Time in 30 Years

Posted November 4, 2016 by Eric Tiffany in Business

OSHA Penalties Increase for the First Time in 30 Years

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently raised its maximum penalty amounts for the first time in nearly three decades, and business owners need to be ready for these changes. Based on inflation and income, the increases to maximum penalties is substantial. Here is everything you need to know about OSHA and the new penalties. 

What Role Does OSHA Play?

OSHA is essentially a safety watchdog organization, ensuring that each business maintains its safety standards for the benefit of its employees. Without OSHA, many companies would likely forego safety procedures in favor of profitability. Safety equipment and safety protocols can cost a business quite a lot from their bottom line, even when taking into consideration the cost of injured, maimed, or even killed employees. OSHA investigations are intended to safeguard against this type of behavior.

When businesses fail to adhere to OSHA’s safety standards, OSHA will enact fines and request remedies. If businesses are able to remedy the situation quickly enough, they may be able to appeal these fines. Likewise, if businesses are able to show that they did meet safety standards, they may also be able to appeal their fines. OSHA may conduct safety inspections on a regular basis. They may also have issues reported directly to them by employees or other concerned individuals.

What Are Some Common OSHA Issues?

Employees need to be safe in their work site environments. This includes providing fall protection, respiratory protection and other necessary and reasonable safety equipment. Procedures should be designed to prevent employees from working in overtly dangerous areas and employees should be trained on basic safety procedures. Any hazards throughout the work site should be adequately communicated, such as ‘hard hat only’ areas. Most importantly these safety standards need to be enforced. Many businesses run into issues if they have documented safety protocols but are not actively ensuring that they are followed.

Although business owners may cringe at the thought of additional penalties, OSHA is a critical gatekeeper regarding employee safety. Without the regulations and penalties imposed by OSHA, it would be very difficult to maintain safety standards.

What Are the New Maximum OSHA Penalties?

In the past, businesses could be charged up to $70,000 for willful or repeated violations of OSHA standards. A $7,000 fine would be charged for individual violations, while $7,000 a day could be charged for a failure to resolve such violations. Thus, a business that had inadequate safety equipment could be charged $7,000 for the violation itself and $7,000 for each day after which the violation was not corrected. If the business was found to have inadequate safety equipment again during another inspection, it could be fined $70,000.

New maximum penalties have been enacted that raise the cost of willful or repeated violations to $124,709. The per violation fine has been raised from $7,000 to $12,471, and the daily failure to abate fine has been raised to $12,471 as well. The goal of these new maximum penalties is to adjust the impact that these penalties will have on businesses and their owners, thereby making it more likely that they will follow these safety regulations.

Although business owners may cringe at the thought of additional penalties, OSHA is a critical gatekeeper regarding employee safety. Without the regulations and penalties imposed by OSHA, it would be very difficult to maintain safety standards.

At Hal Tiffany Agency, Inc. we strive to protect your business against safety concerns, employee injuries and a wide variety of other risk factors. Get in touch with one of our agents to discuss insurance options for your business. We can also provide an analysis of any exposures you may face in terms of lawsuits/liability and offer comprehensive solutions.

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