The Cost of Non-Compliance is on the Rise

This week OSHA announced a 2% increase in monetary penalties for violations of their current regulations and standards. The increased amounts for these penalties apply to violations cited after January 15, 2020.

For example, an employer who willfully violates policy or shows disregard for employee safety will be fined, at the minimum, $9,639 instead of the previous $9,472, or $134,937 instead of $132,598, which was the previous amount imposed for a maximum penalty.

Moreover, for each violation that is repeated for a similar or identical cited violation, the ceiling has increased from $132,598 to $134.937.

Violations with Increased Maximum Penalties

The following listing also gives you a breakdown of specific violations whose maximum penalty has jumped from $13,260 to $13,494 per violation. Increases in maximum penalties cover the following:

  • Violations that relate to workplace dangers that can lead to an accident or an illness, which result in serious harm, or a fatality.
  • Incidents other than serious violations.
  • Failures to correct cited violations.
  • Posting requirement violations.

However, non-compliance to OSHA regulations goes beyond financial penalties. While penalties are, no doubt, damaging, the harm resulting from workplace infractions can ruin a company’s reputation.

When companies do not strictly follow federally regulated health and safety standards, they often are perceived in a negative light. To recover from this type of relapse involves a substantial cost, including losses resulting from layoffs and diminished sales and revenue.

Each year, OSHA publishes it most-cited violations. For 2020, both fall protection (general requirements) and hazard communications have made the top of the list for the seventh year straight.

Most Cited OSHA Violations Overall

Below are the numbers for the most cited violations overall for 2020:

  • Fall Protection (General Requirements) – 6,010
  • Hazard Communications – 3,671
  • Scaffolding – 2,813
  • Lockout/Tagout – 2,606
  • Respiratory Protection – 2,450
  • Ladders – 2,345
  • Powered Industrial Trucks – 2,093
  • Fall Protection (Training Requirements) – 1,773
  • Machine Guarding – 1,745
  • Eye and Face Protection – 1,411

This list is helpful, as well as is being aware of the violations that are cited the most in your field. You can obtain this information from OSHA’s Frequently Cited Standards online.

How to Avoid OSHA Penalties

The best (and somewhat obvious) strategy to avoid OSHA penalties is to have good safety program in place that meets at least the basic requirements for compliance. But how do you know if your safety program is being implemented by your employees, and how effective is it really?

Most EHS consultants recommend an annual, or bi-annual safety audit that will evaluate your safety program for effectiveness and compliance. Getting a professional onsite who can conduct a “Mock OSHA Inspection” will help you to identify gaps in your safety program, but also highlight issues with the job site or with employee communication that OSHA may find problematic.

FUN FACT: Did you know that 80% of all OSHA citations that result in fines come from employee interviews during the site inspection?

Safety Services Company can provide cost-effective onsite Safety Inspections to reduce risk and minimize the chance of OSHA penalties.

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