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The Size of OSHA Penalties

April 9, 1999
Related Topics: Workplace Violence, Safety and Workplace Violence, Featured Article
Have you ever been penalized by OSHA? If so, have you ever wondered why one employer might receive a small penalty for having something as severe as a fatality, while another employer might receive a huge penalty for a less severe incident?

The answer is that OSHA doesn't penalize based on the number of injuries or their severity. It penalizes employers based on violations of standards and management's failure to implement policies to comply with these standards.

A fatality might be the result of one violation. A lesser injury might be the result of several violations. If OSHA cannot show that any management willfulness occurred that allowed the violation, then the maximum penalty is $7,000, regardless of how many people were hurt or even died.

Source: Health & Hygiene/ELB, Chapel Hill, NC, June 1998.

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