Wolf, Baldwin & Associates, P.C.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration violations

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration's duty is to assure the safe working conditions for men and women. It sets and enforces standards, and uses training, education, outreach and more to make workplaces safe.

The agency uses five types of violations to cite employers who have allowed an unsafe condition to be present in the workplace. These violations are:

-- Serious violations: These are situation in which serious physical harm or death could occur and the employer should have known or knew of the hazard. Each violation has a mandatory penalty that may be as high as $12,471. It can be lower depending on the employer's history of violations, the size of the business, the employer's good faith and the seriousness of the violation.

-- Other than serious violation: This violation is for situations that probably wouldn't cause serious physical harm or death, but does have a direct relationship to workplace safety. The penalty can be as high as for serious violations, but it can also be lowered to 95 percent of the maximum penalty. The lower penalty depends on the history of violations, the employer's good faith and the business' size.

-- Willful violation: This violation occurs when the employer commits the violation knowingly. The employer either knew about the violation and didn't do anything to fix the problem or knew that what he or she was doing was a violation. The possible penalty can go as high as $124,709 for each violation. The minimum penalty amount is $8,908. No credit is usually given for an employer's good faith, but the penalty can be lowered from the maximum amount depending on the history of violations and the business' size. If an employee is killed, the employer could face a jail sentence of up to six months, a fine of $250,000 to $500,000 or both.

-- Repeat violations: A subsequent violation can result in a penalty of up to $124,709. In order for this violation to be used, the initial violation must be final and not under contest.

-- Failure to abate prior violation: If an employer does not correct a previous violation, a daily penalty may be imposed of up to $12,471.

Employers are required by law to keep a workplace safe. Employees that are injured have a right to workers' compensation benefits. A benefit claim denial and appeal may need the guidance of an experienced attorney.

Source: SafetyNewsAlert.com, "Types of OSHA violations," accessed Sep. 30, 2016

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