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In the ever-evolving landscape of workplace safety regulations, businesses must stay abreast of changes that may impact them. One such recent development is the adjustment of OSHA Civil Penalty amounts, effective January 15, 2024. This article aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the changes and their implications.
For the 13th consecutive year, Fall Protection maintains its top position on OSHA’s list. In FY 2022, there were 5,260 violations reported, and this number increased to 7,271 violations in FY 2023. Fall Protection not only had the highest number of violations but also ranked highest in serious and willful violations during this period. Employers need to grasp the gravity of OSHA violations, especially considering that OSHA has raised the maximum Civil Penalty amounts for 2024.
As of the 15th of January, 2024, all penalties assessed, irrespective of when the inspection was initiated, will witness an increase. This adjustment underscores the commitment to reinforcing safety measures across industries.
OSHA defines a willful violation as: “a violation in which the employer either knowingly failed to comply with a legal requirement (purposeful disregard) or acted with plain indifference to employee safety.” OSHA deems these violations as particularly severe since they involve a deliberate breach of OSHA regulations, showcasing a blatant disregard for the health and safety of employees.
These violations now carry a minimum penalty of $11,524, up from $10,360, and a maximum penalty of $161,323, increased from $145,027. Understanding what constitutes a willful violation is pivotal for businesses to avoid such penalties. A willful violation can escalate to a criminal offense, especially if an employee loses their life due to the employer’s negligence. In such a scenario, an employer may encounter substantially higher fines, and potential imprisonment. A corporation might be required to even greater fines above $500,000.
Instances of repeated violations come with a heightened maximum penalty of $161,323. An employer may be cited for a repeat violation if that employer has been cited previously for a substantially similar condition and the citation has become a final order. For instance, consider a roofing contractor receiving multiple citations for failing to provide fall protection equipment to their workers.
According to OSHA, a serious violation occurs when the workplace hazard could cause an accident or illness that would most likely result in death or serious physical harm, unless the employer did not know or could not have known of the violation.
The maximum penalty for serious violations, where a substantial probability of death or serious harm exists, has been adjusted to $16,131. Businesses need to comprehend the gravity of these violations and take proactive measures to prevent them.
OSHA defines Other-Than-Serious violations as: A violation that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but is not serious in nature, is classified as “other-than-serious.” This is a violation of OSHA rules that may not lead to a serious injury or fatality, but still has the potential to put an employee’s health or safety at risk An example would be if an employer fails to post mandatory safety documentation in an employee work area.
Penalties for non-serious violations have also seen an increase, with the maximum penalty now standing at $16,131. It is crucial to differentiate these violations from more severe infractions to ensure appropriate responses.
For a detailed breakdown of the adjustments, businesses are encouraged to visit the official OSHA website at https://www.osha.gov/penalties. This resource provides comprehensive information on the updated penalty structure.
It’s crucial to recognize that fall protection consistently ranks as the #1 most cited OSHA violation. Prioritizing the safety of your employees at heights is not only a legal imperative but also a moral responsibility. To safeguard your team and avoid hefty penalties, consider implementing effective fall protection measures. At FrenchCreek, our dedicated team is ready to provide tailored fall protection solutions, ensuring that your workforce remains secure and compliant with OSHA regulations. Invest in safety to protect your employees and your business.
For assistance tailored to your specific fall protection needs, reach out to our committed sales team. They can arrange an on-site visit to ensure the safety of your employees.