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OSHA Penalties on the Rise: What You Need to Know

Attn. business owners: OSHA penalties are going up—and that could spell problems for your company.

It’s been 25 years since the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has increased its penalties to account for inflation—but now the agency will be making up for lost time.

Since 1990, OSHA has been exempt from increasing its penalties. But the new budget that was signed into law on Nov. 2, 2015, directs the agency to upwardly adjust its fines—and to continue to raise them on an annual basis—to stay in alignment with the Consumer Price Index, which has risen more than 80 percent in the last quarter century.

What does that mean for your company? Well, it could mean next to nothing—if your business isn’t found to have committed violations. But if your company is found to have committed a violation, the resulting penalty could be a real shock.

Take, for example, OSHA posting requirements. Right now, a violation of these requirements would have resulted in a fine no greater than $7000. But a few months from now—after the new penalty schedule goes into effect in August—that same violation could result in a fine as great as $12,000.

The difference is even more dramatic in the case of willful violations, when an employer knowingly fails to comply with the law or is indifferent toward worker safety. The maximum penalty now is $70,000, which is already significant; but after August, the new maximum will be more than $127,000.

The key to avoiding the economic impact of the new OSHA penalty schedule? Don’t commit any violations, of course. Establish great safety practices and procedures, and ensure that your workers are trained to follow them. A solid culture of safety will not only protect your workers; it will also protect your company from a crushing financial penalty.

Beall Financial and Insurance Services has been working with business-owners for more than 25 years to help them protect their most important assets, and their companies’ future. If you have questions about insurance coverage for your business, contact us.


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