Look it can go without saying owners and managers are not interested in being cited or fined by OSHA or any other agency for that matter. Few if any do not care about their employee’s or their wellbeing. So tell me why OSHA posts new citations along with associated fines each day? The answer to that isn’t very complicated. Although owners & managers want the best for their employees, themselves and their organizations most don’t know the fine points. Besides the push for production, sales and making ends meet is the priority each day. Well it was….
Sure they know how to run the business. They know the sales. They know the marketing and when they don’t they hire others to help in the areas of need. Well that is except with safety. Often it is just simply neglecting to understand the importance of investing in safety training & compliance. Speed of their business is too fast to “slow down and review needs” and the “oh yes, that, we’ll come back to that later” but it rarely happens. Until an upset employee drops a dime and the inspector walks through the door. The OSHA General Duty Clause and other standards are serious business yet organizations are fined on a regular basis.
Okay so big deal. Tell us something we don’t already know right?! So congress along with the DOL decided it was time to review the OSHA fines and pass new legislation that increases the fines. Okay fine but how much?
New OSHA Fines Could Rise by 80%
Hey it’s been decades since the last increase. The population in the US has grown. Safety compliance training has increased yet the amount of workplace injury and death has stayed constant for the most part. Yet the number and amount of fines have gone up. Apparently congress and the DOL have decided the pain of the current fine structure isn’t high enough. So along comes the new structure that will “adjust for inflation. If OSHA pushes the max amount would mean:
Serious violation fines could go from $7,000 to near $12,000
Willful violation fines could go from $70,000 to around $125,000
Can I get a collective ouch from anyone? Yes you read that right “as much as 80%” in some cases. Got your attention now?
So what’s the reasoning behind all this besides more pain for business and more of the green flowing into the regulatory agency? One view point is owners & managers; after decades of training & information, still are not taking the required safety training & compliance serious. So now with this new structure available to the agency perhaps more owners & managers will take time to invest in their employees. Hey just because the new high limits will be available doesn’t mean that is what the inspectors will access the high limits for fines. They will have “digression” to determine the amount(s) as always. However given the budget for OSHA was cut once again how often to you think they will limit the amounts? Especially if your company is a repeat offender and they hit you with Willful Violations?
Yet is it really worth the risk? Wouldn’t you be willing to spend just a tiny fraction of these fines to avoid these citations? After all with today’s social media the hit on your business could be worse. Hey just look at Chipotle’s $11 billion dollar loss in sales from an E coli breakout. Did you know OSHA does post citations and fines on their website? Yes they do by region. Why? They say it is “public knowledge” and for “public safety” as the two main reasons.
Investing in the required safety compliance and training really does cost that much compared to the new fine structure. Add in the hit your company will take on social media along with the stress and I’m sure you would agree investing $2500 – $4000 or so a year sure out weights citations & fines. Look if you are not sure of what you need just call a safety consultant in your area. Feel free to contact me even. After all we are here to help.