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Recent OSHA Citations: What We Can Learn From Them?

Toby Graham /
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OSHA’s been busy these days. Learn from some of the key cases OSHA’s ruled on to understand where they’re focusing their efforts.

Understanding OSHA’s regulations and what these violations are will help improve safety compliance and ensure your company is meeting required safety protocols. OSHA fines can be costly and can create a financial burden. Investing in a strong safety program and safety culture can keep OSHA fines at bay.

OSHA Fines for 2021

On January 15, 2021, OSHA’s penalty amounts for workplace safety and health violations increased based on cost-of-living adjustments for 2021. Here are the maximum potential fines based on the type of violation.

Serious
Other-Than-Serious
Posting Requirements

$13,653 per violation

Failure to Abate

$13,653 per day beyond the abatement date

Willful or Repeated

$136,532 per violation

OSHA violations occur when a company does not comply with OSHA regulations. Depending on the severity of the infraction, the company can receive a citation or fine. Sometimes instead of issuing a fine, OSHA gives the company a citation. A citation, which is like a warning, lets the business know there is a violation they need to resolve. It includes a date when the safety issue or issues need to be corrected.

Recent OSHA Penalties

Employee Complaint Spurs $120,000 in Penalties

In January, OSHA cited the U.S. subsidiary of a multinational electrical equipment maker for violations of confined space entry, respiratory protection, and other standards because workers were exposed to dangerous asphyxiation hazards and the potential for serious injury. The company was cited for 11 serious violations and 1 other-than-serious violation and was fined $119,757 in proposed penalties.

OSHA compliance officers inspected the facility in response to an employee complaint and found machine operators and maintenance employees routinely entered powder-coating ovens without testing atmospheric conditions or securing natural gas lines and operating machine parts.

OSHA also found that the company didn’t have an adequate respiratory protection program, they failed to train employees on the hazards of the powder coat used on the company’s products, and failed to clean working areas. They also neglected to provide required fall protection, exposing employees to fall hazards of up to 20 feet, and the company did not provide employee training on safety and health hazards in the workplace.

Repeat Violations Rack up $177,00 in Penalties

OSHA recently cited another company for two repeat and three serious safety violations involving forklift training and machine safety procedures when a forklift struck and seriously injured a 60-year-old seasonal employee as she walked toward a pallet to label products for shipping. The agency proposed $177,490 in penalties.

Failing to Correct Hazards Results in $300,000 in Penalties

In 2020, OSHA cited a plumbing contractor nearly $300,000 for failure to abate previous hazards that had been identified in a 2016 OSHA inspection in response to a complaint. In 2016, OSHA cited the company after the death of an employee in an unprotected trench. During the 2020 inspection, OSHA found another employee working at least 7 feet below ground in an unprotected trench. OSHA cited the company for failure to provide basic safeguards against trench collapse and exposing an employee working in a trench to unsecured electrical and gas lines. The company also allowed an employee to work in a trench without head protection while exposed to overhead struck-by hazards. 

Luckily for you, these types of OSHA fines can be avoided.

How? Companies should:

Have questions? Looking for more information about avoiding OSHA fines? We’re here to help.

KPA can help you develop a comprehensive EHS program that harnesses technology, best practices, and the concerted efforts of your workforce to maintain a safe and productive workplace.

KPA is here to help.

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