I’m sure you all recall OSHA’s big press release last year when it announced revisions to its penalty framework to increase penalties. Well, OSHA is now using the revised framework and the penalties are stiff.
A review of OSHA penalties in Region 7, covering Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska, shows significant penalties. A stucco company in Kansas was fined $147,000 for two repeat and one serious violation where employees were observed working from scaffolding without proper fall protection. A roofer in Omaha was fined $64,000 following four safety citations where employees were exposed to fall hazards. $56,000 of this penalty was issued for allowing employees to work at heights greater than 6 feet without fall protection. $5,600 of the penalty was for failing to properly certify that employees were trained to recognize fall hazards. And, $2,400 of the penalty was issued for failing to record injuries in the OSHA 300 log.
Of course, we don’t know the entire story behind these penalties, but they certainly show that OSHA is taking a much more aggressive approach. Knowing what OSHA is taking into account may help you in dealing with OSHA.
OSHA’s changes in its penalty framework include:
- History—OSHA will look at an employer’s history of violations over the past five years, up from three years.
- Gravity-Based Penalty (GBP) –OSHA will assess the severity of the injury/illness that could result from a hazard and apply a penalty for serious citations ranging from $3,000 to $7,000.
- Size Reduction—OSHA amended its penalty reduction policy, allowing a reduction from 10 to 40 percent for companies with less than 250 employees. Employers with more than 250 employees will not be entitled to the reduction.
- Minimum Penalties—The minimum proposed penalty for serious violations was increased to $500.00, and the minimum penalty for a posting violation was increased to $250.00.
OSHA penalties are increasing during tough economic times. Be on the lookout for safety issues to avoid an OSHA penalty in your future.