The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) enforces workplace safety within the United States. Businesses and work sites are subject to periodic OSHA inspections, as well as inspections and investigations due to worker complaints. These inspections can uncover violations that range from minor to hazardous. OSHA has six (6) specific categories of violations, each that comes with a recommended or mandatory penalty.
The six types of OSHA violations are as follows:
- De Minimis Violations – De minimis violations are technical violations of OSHA rules that have no direct impact on worker health or safety. Because these are the least serious types of violations, OSHA inspectors do not typically assign fines or citations for this class. Instead, inspectors will issue verbal warnings and list them in the employer’s file. An example of a de minimis violation would be spacing between ladder rungs that is 13 inches instead of the required 12 inches.
- Other-than-Serious Violations – A violation that would not cause serious injury or death but is still related to job safety or employee health is considered an other-than-serious violation. The maximum penalty is $7,000, but an inspector can decide not to issue a fine or reduce it. Examples of other-than-serious violations include failure to post required documentation in work areas and failure to provide copies of safety regulations.
- Serious Violations – OSHA considers serious violations those that an employer knows could cause a serious injury or death to their employees and they do not remedy it. Inspectors can impose a penalty up to $7,000, but will vary with the seriousness of the violation, the employer’s history, and business size. Failure to ensure that workers who carry heavy loads are wearing appropriate footwear is an example of a serious violation.
- Willful Violations – Willful violations, or violations that intentionally violate OSHA rules and show a blatant disregard for worker health and safety, are the most serious violations. The minimum penalty for a willful violation is $5,000. If a worker is killed, the offense is considered criminal, with a minimum penalty of $250,000 for an individual or $500,000 for a corporation. If an individual is convicted of a fatal willful violation, they can also be imprisoned for up to six (6) months as well. An example of a willful violation would be a fatal crushing injury because the employer did not implement adequate safety procedures for equipment that had previously caused injuries.
- Repeated Violations – When an employer is cited for a violation and a subsequent inspection uncovers another similar or identical violation, OSHA inspectors may cite the employer for a repeated violation. If an employer is contesting an initial violation, an OSHA inspector cannot cite them for a repeated violation until the original case is issued a final decision.
- Failure to Abate Prior Violation – When an employer is issued a citation, they must remedy the situation by the date listed on their paperwork. Failure to do so can result in a daily fine from the date of the expected remedy date until the date that the condition is remedied.
If you or a loved one has suffered injuries due to negligence on the job site or a defective product, an experienced personal injury lawyer can review your claim and determine if there were unsafe working conditions, potential OSHA violations, and other hazards that may have existed at the time of your accident. They will also determine who may be liable for your injuries and damages and what compensation you may be entitled to.
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