Automatic OSHA Fines Are Now In Effect
Workplace safety is a big issue because, unfortunately, there are thousands of fatalities and even more serious injuries on worksites every day in the United States. Preventing fatal accidents is key for employers, and it is the job of every company to ensure that the business makes its premises and processes as safe as possible.
Sometimes, however, employers do not live up to their obligations and they allow hazards to exist on worksites that exacerbate a risk of death or serious bodily injury. If an employer fails to follow workplace safety rules and the lives of workers are jeopardized because of it, it's possible the employer will face a fine imposed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Employees can also make a workers' compensation claim to get benefits, and may be able to pursue such a claim regardless of whether employers were negligent or not. It's a good idea to contact a Colorado Springs workers' compensation attorney for help understanding options and for assistance with pursuing a claim for benefits, so give us a call today.
Automatic Increase in OSHA Fines Goes Into Effect
OSHA fines are intended to act as a deterrent to discourage employers from allowing unsafe conditions on a worksite. Fines had become too low to make a different, however, until a bill was passed to allow OSHA fines to rise.
Because of the change to the law to impose larger fines, OSHA fines jumped up by 78 percent beginning in August of 2017. This increase was the first increase in fines since 1990. The law that allowed for this increase to take place also provided for automatic increases in subsequent years but gave the government the authority to reject those automatic increases.
The Trump Administration did not exercise its authority to stop the automatic increases; instead, it permitted them to go forward. This means the fine for a willful violation increased 2.04% starting January 3, 2018, going from a maximum of $126,749 to a new maximum of $129,336.
Maximums also increased for serious violations; for other-than-serious violations; for repeated violations; and for failure to abate workplace hazards. The higher penalties could apply to any violations that occurred after November 2, 2017, provided that OSHA takes action and the penalty is actually assessed on January 3, 2018 or later.
While these maximum penalties are higher than in the past, fines can sometimes be reduced so not every company will be penalized the maximum amount by OSHA after a work safety violation is discovered. The size of the company; the severity of the violation; a history of past violations; and whether the company made a good faith effort or not will all be considered in imposing OSHA fines and penalties.
These higher fines should hopefully help to encourage more employers to ensure they aren't putting workers lives in jeopardy by failing to comply with workplace safety rules. Regardless of whether or not safety rules are followed, however, workers have rights after injuries on-the-job. A Colorado Springs workers' compensation attorney can provide assistance to an injured worker or his family in getting benefits that are necessary after a work injury has occurred.