Fines for Workplace Safety Violations Rise for the first time in 25 Years

Penalties for workplace safety and health violations — investigated and administered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) — are among the lowest of all federal regulatory agencies. For example, the maximum fine that OSHA can administer, even where a violation causes death, is $7,000. If the death is caused by the employer’s willful conduct, the fine can rise to $70,000. By comparison, the Federal Communications Commission can fine TV or radio stations up to $325,000 for indecent content. The Environmental Protection Agency can impose a $270,000 penalty for violations of the Clean Air Act.

As of July 1, OSHA has announced it will raise its fines for the first time in decades. Maximum OSHA fines will increase by about 80 percent, to approximately $12,000 for a serious violation and $120,000 for a willful violation of the law. Even with this increase, the fines are still low in comparison to other federal agencies. But it is a step in the right direction. Read more here.

Have a question about conditions at work or need to file a complaint about health and safety violations at your workplace? In Louisiana, call (225) 298-5458 or 1-800-321-OSHA.

Updates to OSHA’s Recordkeeping Rule

The federal government is tightening rules on the reporting of workplace deaths and severe injuries. Establishments located in States under the Federal Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) jurisdiction must begin to comply with the new requirements on January 1, 2015, reporting any fatalities within eight hours of the accident or incident. Also, all work-related in-patient hospitalizations, amputations and loss of an eye must be reported within 24 hours to OSHA.

Previously, OSHA’s regulations required such reports to be filed only if three or more workers were killed or hospitalized while on the job. The agency said no company will be exempt, no matter how small.

“We can and must do more to keep America’s workers safe and healthy,” Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez said in a statement. “Workplace injuries and fatalities are absolutely preventable, and these new requirements will help OSHA focus its resources and hold employers accountable for preventing them.”

Read the full updates here.

Workers’ Memorial Day 2014

“Workers’ Memorial Day is observed every year on April 28. It is a day to honor those workers who have died on the job, to acknowledge the grievous suffering experienced by families and communities, and to recommit ourselves to the fight for safe and healthful workplaces for all workers. It is also the day OSHA was established in 1971. Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their workers. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.”

U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez will join in a webcast at 2 p.m. EDT today, April 28, to mark Workers’ Memorial Day. Safety agencies worldwide will do the same — NIOSH, OSHA, IOSH, and many more.

No one should have to die in order to make a living.

Hundreds of DPW employees from throughout the state line the street at St. Patrick's Church in Natick in early February for the funeral procession of Michael McDaniel, the Natick DPW worker killed on the job at a road excavation site. Daily News Staff File Photo / Allan Jung

Hundreds of DPW employees from throughout the state of Massachusetts line the street at St. Patrick’s Church in Natick in early February for the funeral procession of Michael McDaniel, the Natick DPW worker killed on the job at a road excavation site. Daily News Staff File Photo / Allan Jung

“Michael McDaniel was just doing his job as public works foreman, trying to fix a water main break when he was struck and killed by a backhoe in February. The 48-year-old worked for the Natick Department of Public Works for 26 years. Co-worker Scott Spurling was injured in the accident. Each week an average of 28 municipal workers in Massachusetts alone suffer injuries serious enough to be out of work for five or more days, according to data from the Massachusetts Department of Industrial accidents.” Read more on this story from the Patriot Ledger here

For more information and data on workplace deaths and injuries nationwide, visit OSHA.

 

OSHA follow-up inspection finds 11 workplace violations at US Minerals LLC in Harvey, La

 

“HARVEY, La. – The U. S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited U.S. Minerals LLC with 11 safety and health violations from a follow-up inspection that began in September 2013 at the Harvey facility. The manufacturer of abrasive blasting and roofing materials faces $77,770 in fines for failing to train and protect workers when entering hazardous confined spaces, implement safe lockout/tagout procedures when maintaining equipment, provide required protection for workers exposed to dangerously high noise levels and ensure forklift operators knew how to work safely.” Read more about this case here.

Employers and employees with questions regarding workplace safety and health standards can call the Baton Rouge Area Office at 225-298-5458 or OSHA’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-6742 to report workplace accidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov