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OSHA to Impose Higher Penalties for Safety Violations

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With the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) new penalties in effect, U.S. employers must be extra cautious to avoid safety violations. Otherwise, they could face hefty fines. OSHA regularly imposes fines on businesses that fail to comply with its safety standards. As of Jan. 23, 2019, however, businesses can expect to pay more for these fines.

On Jan. 23, 2019, OSHA updates its maximum penalties for safety violations, citing the need to account for inflation. The good news is that it's not a significant difference from OSHA's previous maximum penalties, but it's still something of which employers should be aware. So, what are the maximum fines that OSHA is now allowed to impose for safety violations?

OSHA's New Maximum Fines Explained

The maximum fine for a safety violation varies depending on the type of violation. You can check out OSHA's official website for a breakdown of the new maximum fines. Basically, though, the maximum fine for serious and other-than-serious violations is $13,260, while the maximum fine for failure to abate is $13,260 per day after the abatement date, and the maximum fine for willful or repeated violations is $132,598.

How to Avoid Safety Violation Fines With Your Business

As an employer, there are several steps you can take to avoid safety violations and ensure compliance with OSHA's standards, beginning with providing your workers with the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). Contrary to what some employers believe, workers aren't responsible for purchasing or obtaining their PPE. This is a responsibility that falls on the shoulders of the employer, and if an employer doesn't provide his or her workers with the right PPE, they could be fined by OSHA.

OSHA offers an on-site consultation program that can help businesses comply with its standards. Available in all 50 states, this free service allows employers -- especially those of small businesses -- to access tools and advice regarding workplace safety. Furthermore, it allows employers to qualify for a one-year exemption of traditional workplace inspections.

It's also important to take the necessary corrective action if your business is cited for a safety violation. Simply ignoring the problem won't make it go away. As revealed above, OSHA has increased the maximum fine for failure to abate to a whopping $13,260 per day. Therefore, allowing a safety violation to remain uncorrected for just a week, could result in a fine upwards of $100,000.

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