The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has raised its fines for certain violations of workplace safety laws. The higher penalties went into effect in August of 2016, so employers are now subject to much more substantial fines if they violate worker safety laws. These higher fines mean that the threat of OSHA action could be more of a deterrent in the future, prompting employees to be more careful about following safety rules.
Companies should follow OSHA guidelines to try to make worksites as safe as possible for employees. Unfortunately, work injuries can happen under any circumstances, no matter how safe a worksite is. The safety of a work environment (or lack of safety) also isn’t a factor when it comes to an employee’s right to receive benefits after getting hurt on-the-job.
If you were harmed at work, you are entitled to workers’ comp coverage. An Atlanta work injury lawyer can help you to fight for the compensation you deserve.
New OSHA Fines Aimed at Preventing Atlanta Work Accidents
Starting on August 1, 2016, the new maximum OSHA fines for both serious and other-than-serious violations are now $12,741. The prior maximum was $7,000. The new maximum fine for a willful and repeat violation is now $124,709, up from $70,000. Finally, the new maximum fine for failure to abate is $12,741 per day, as compared with a prior maximum of $7,000.
These increases are substantial with fines going up 78.2 percent. The big jump up is important to catch up with inflation, as OSHA fines haven’t been raised since 1990. Such a long delay will not occur again, as there was a provision in the 2016 federal budget law which allows federal OSHA regulators to increase maximum fines annually based on inflation. For states which set their own OSHA penalties, they have up to six months to adopt maximum penalties at least as effective as those put into place by federal lawmakers.
While the maximums are now higher, not every company faces the maximum fine. There are four factors which OSHA will use to consider how much of a fine to impose upon a company when it violates workplace safety laws. OSHA considers the gravity of the violation; the company’s size; whether or not the company has made a good faith effort to comply with OSHA rules; and what history the company has of past OSHA violations. Gravity of the violation is given the most weight in assessing fines. OSHA will also reduce penalties for smaller companies, and for “quick-fixes” where employers immediately correct problems.
The substantial jump in fines is good news for worker safety, as companies which may have previously been lax because they weren’t worried about fines will now be aware there are potentially more serious financial consequences. However, some companies may still fail to follow the rules, and some work injuries will still happen even on safe worksites. When problems arise, injured employees need to understand their options for pursuing a work injury claim.
The Atlanta workplace accident lawyers at Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. can represent employees or their families after a workplace injury or death. Call today at (404) 814-8949 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.