Defend Your Workplace Rights
Thanks to The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSHA), employees across all industries are entitled to reasonable protection against workplace-related hazards, especially those working with heavy machinery and hazardous chemicals. But unfortunately, not every employer takes OSHA regulations seriously, with some even going to great lengths to avoid investing in employee health and safety. Regardless of whether a violation results in an employee’s injury or not, employers who do not abide by these rules could be subject to expensive fines and held liable for injured employers.
Needless to say, workplace accidents can turn an employee’s life upside down — make sure this doesn’t happen to you. If you’ve suffered workplace injuries because of an OSHA violation, contact OSHA lawyer, Ken Hesser, to request a case consultation.
What Does OSHA Cover?
OSHA regulates workplace standards regarding potentially hazardous materials, situations, and equipment, such as toxic chemicals, mechanical use procedures, maintenance requirements, and environmental conditions. These regulations apply to a wide variety of industries, including agriculture and construction. OSHA also requires employers to maintain records of all occupational injuries and illnesses.
Please note that OSHA and workers compensation are separate. OSHA focuses primarily on workplace safety, while workers comp provides workers with the medical care they need without concerns about how they are going to pay for it. However, an OSHA violation could provide the grounds for filing a workers comp claim.
OSHA Violation Types
There are six types of OSHA violations depending on the nature and severity of the infraction.
- De Minimis violations — These violations are the least serious, having no significant impact on employee health or safety. Instead, they are more of a technical error, listed on the employer’s case inspection file, but not subject to a monetary penalty. A door or window clearance half an inch lower than what OSHA requires would be a typical example of a De Minimis violation.
- Other-than-serious violations — These violations do not pose an immediate threat to employees but are nevertheless indicative of non-compliance to OSHA regulations. Common examples include poor recordkeeping and failure to provide safety regulation information to employees.
- Serious violations — Any situation with a definite chance of causing severe injury or death to employees would classify as serious if the employer knew (or should have known) about the hazard but did nothing to fix it. For example, failure to ensure construction workers wear steel-toe boots would be considered a serious violation.
- Willful violations — The highest degree for OSHA violations are willful violations. These occur when an employer intentionally disregards employee health and safety. Willful violations are subject to the highest fines and may even be grounds for criminal charges in some cases. An example of a willful violation would be providing employees with equipment proven to be faulty and hazardous.
- Repeated violations — As their name suggests, these violations occur when an employer commits the same or a very similar offense. Accordingly, the fines for repeated violations are typically higher than first-instance violations.
- Failure to Abate — If an employer fails to remediate a violation by the set deadline, they commit a new offense referred to as failure to abate. To discourage employers from postponing corrective actions, fines for this type of violation increment over time.
OSHA monetary penalties vary widely depending on the type of violation and estimated damages. As of 2020, Other-than serious and serious violations max at $13,494 per violation. Failure to abate violations max at $13,494 per day beyond the abatement date. Lastly, willful and repeated violations max at $134,937 per violation. Please note, these numbers are subject to change every year.
Employers could also be subject to the following upon conviction:
- A $10,000 fine or up to 6 months in jail or both for falsifying records, reports, or applications.
- A civil penalty of up to $7,000 for violations of posting requirements.
- A fine of not more than $5,000 and imprisonment for not more than three years for assaulting a compliance officer or otherwise resisting, opposing, intimidating, or interfering with compliance officers while they are engaged in the performance of their duties.
How An OSHA Lawyer Can Help
Many employees hesitate to file an OSHA complaint out of fear of losing their job. However, rest assured, employers can not legally fire a worker for this. In case of retaliation, our employee lawyer, Ken Hesser, can help you protect your rights, ensuring that you have enough time away from work to heal completely. When attempting to take action against an employer, do not accept a settlement until you speak with an attorney.
OSHA & Workers Compensation
Injured workers filing for workers compensation can use evidence of an OSHA violation in their favor. In some instances, they may also use this evidence to file a third-party lawsuit against their employer or even a criminal lawsuit in the event of a willful OSHA violation. Our workers comp attorney can help injured workers determine if they can sue an employer on the grounds of an OSHA violation and represent them during negotiations and in court.