The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, commonly referred to as OSHA, levies fines for businesses violating standard safety protocols. These fines are exacted to strengthen their mission of ensuring safe and healthy working conditions for employees, as supported by the Department of Labor.
This article covers all 6 types of violations and their corresponding penalties, and if you read to the end, you will learn how to avoid them altogether. Yes, OSHA fines can be avoided!
OSHA lists 6 types of violations that, contingent upon the severity, differ in penalty amounts.
A serious violation is when a workplace hazard could endanger workers, either by illness or accident, that in all likelihood would cause serious injury or death—unless the owner or manager is not aware or could have not been made aware.
It is best to do hazard identification and risk assessment to ensure safety and avoid costly fines.
Gravity-Based Penalty (GBP) defines the gravity of the violation with the subsequent category and amounts:
This table shows the basis of GBP for serious violations. Severity + Probability = GBP.
Other-Than-Serious violation is when a threat jeopardizes a worker’s health and safety but does not end in injury or death. This has the same maximum penalty as a serious violation but OSHA has the discretion to issue a citation or reduce the fine by 95%.
There are two classifications for other-than-serious violations. One is the lesser minimal-only violation and the other is the greater minimal-only violation.
Only minimal severity is assigned for this violation.
|Minimal||Greater||$1, 000 - $14, 502|
Willful or repeated violations are the most severe. A violation is willful when the owner or manager, being informed of a hazard, refuses to fix it or acts apathetic to worker safety. This is also called purposeful disregard.
If a serious and/or willful violation is repeated within 3 years, the company at fault will incur devastating fines. The updated maximum penalty for this could be up to $145, 027.
Refer to this chart for the Serious Willful Penalty Reductions.
|10 or fewer||80|
|251 or more||0|
Upon receiving an OSHA notice, the employer must post it (original or copy) at or near the incident area. This is mandated to alert the employees of the hazards. The said notice is to be kept posted for 3 working days (excluding weekends and Federal holidays) or until the hazard is abated, whichever is longer.
The employer can choose from either of these options:
Failure to abate is incurred when a business owner fails to resolve their safety violation within the date set in the OSHA Notice. The said violation is then subject to the maximum penalty per day past the abatement date.
De minimis is a Latin phrase that can be translated as “about minimal things”. Hence, it is defined as lacking significance or importance - something so minor as to merit disregard.
An OSHA de minimis is a violation that has no direct or immediate relationship to safety or health. This violation type does not lead to penalties or citations.
For example, Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires a 12-inch distance between ladder rungs, so a 13-inch space is non-compliant.
OSHA fines are based on the severity of the violation and may reach a maximum of $14, 502 for each one.
The chart below presents the minimum-maximum OSHA fines list as of January 2022.
* Note: For each repeated other-than-serious violation without initial penalty, the following GBP schedule shall be exacted: First repetition - $414; Second repetition - $1,036; Third repetition - $2,072
You may visit their website if you’re interested to check for OSHA enforcement inspections by the name of the establishment.
In a word, avoiding OSHA fines is avoiding violations.
The most efficient way to achieve this is by creating a safe working environment. To do this, you need to identify and then resolve all identified potential hazards in your workplace. Your employees should be trained on proper safety procedures for their daily operations and prepare them in the event of emergencies.
The following steps are recommended by OSHA to employers and workers in identifying and assessing workplace hazards:
Check out these OSHA-recommended practices in preventing and controlling workplace hazards:
Awareness of OSHA violations will help business owners become more adherent to the guidelines and requirements set by OSHA. Avoiding these violations means optimal occupational safety and health for the workers and steering clear of costly OSHA fines.