The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) enforces workplace safety in the United States. Most businesses and worksites are subject to periodic OSHA inspections, as well as inspections prompted by employee safety complaints and accidents. These inspections may detect violations of OSHA codes that can range from minor to hazardous.
There are six (6) categories of OSHA violations, each of which carries either a recommended or mandatory penalty. These include:
- De Minimis Violations – This is the least serious class of OSHA violation that has no direct impact on the health and safety of employees. There are no fines or citations for these types of violations, instead, inspectors verbally inform employers about the violations and list them on the employer’s case inspection file.
- Other-Than-Serious Violations – These violations would not usually cause death or serious injury to employees however they are still considered to be related to job safety or employee health. Inspectors can choose not to issue a fine or they can reduce the penalty which can be a maximum of $7,000 per violation. This decision is based on factors such as the size of the business and the cooperativeness of the business owner.
- Serious Violations – Serious violations are issued when an employer knows of or should know of, a situation that has a definite chance of causing serious injury or death and does not remedy it. OSHA inspectors must issue a penalty of up to $7,000 per violation, but this can be adjusted based on the seriousness of the violation, the size of the business, the employer’s previous OSHA history, and the good faith of the employer.
- Willful Violations – Willful violations are intentional violations of OSHA rules and show disregard for employee health and safety. The minimum penalty for each willful violation is $5,000 with a maximum fine of $70,000. If an employee is killed, the offense is considered a criminal offense with a maximum fine of $250,000 for an individual or $500,000 for a corporation. If convicted of a fatal willful violation, an individual can be imprisoned for up to six months.
- Repeated Violations – If a subsequent inspection reveals another or similar violation, OSHA inspectors may cite the employer with a repeated violation. The maximum fine for repeated violations is $70,000. If the employer contests the original violation and is awaiting the final OSHA decision, an OSHA inspector cannot consider a violation of the same type to be a repeated violation.
- Failure to Abate Prior Violation – If an employer does not remedy a violation by the date on a citation, they can be liable for a fine of $7,000 per day from the day after the specified date until the situation 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. Personal injury attorney will also determine who may be liable for your injuries and damages and what compensation you may be entitled to.
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