OSHA Penalties Go Large

DeniseBlommelBy Denise M. Blommel
Employment Law Attorney

Members of Congress had to take deep breaths and hold their noses to pass the 2015 Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, which kept the federal government open for business. It also mandated a nearly 80% cost of living “catch up” increase to penalties imposed by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

You may remember when the “serious violation penalty” was $1,000. It increased to $7,000 in 1990 and has remained there. In comparison, the yardstick Consumer Price Index, has gone up 78% since 1990.

As a prudent businessperson, you need to assume that federal OSHA will raise penalties by the entire amount. As Arizona is a Section 18 State (meaning OSHA allows our Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health to handle all workplace safety matters), we must follow OSHA’s lead. You can expect serious penalties to range from $7,000 to $12,500. Expect willful and repeat violations to range from $70,000 to $125,000.

Scared yet?

It pays to be up to date on OSHA regulations. Consider attending Safety Works Plus this summer, a daylong educational event sponsored by the safety pros at CopperPoint Insurance Companies. Topics ranging from workplace safety, accident investigations, OSHA reporting  and trends in compensability issues will be presented. Click here For information and to register.

Mitigating risks through assessment

One way companies may figure out whether they’re doing their best to mitigate risks and provide quality worker safety is with a process that EHS Today calls looking for the “true north.” This means looking at two different sets of statistics: leading indicators and lagging indicators. Leading indicators present facts about what a company now is doing to prevent risk, while lagging indicators show how well a company has succeeded in its plans, and whether the plans are good ones. Continue reading

OSHA’s guide to boosting safety in a construction zone

The National Safety Council (NSC) has joined forces with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to help facilitate safer and healthier climates at work, according to Occupational Health and Safety.

“Eleven Americans die at work each day, which is tragic and unacceptable,” said Jim Johnson, vice president of workplace safety initiatives at NSC. “Establishing safer workplaces and preventing deaths and injuries is a complex issue that requires a cadre Continue reading