Costly Repeat OSHA Violations Go Beyond Five Years
Last month, a federal appellate court ruling made it easier for inspectors to issue repeat OSHA violations by removing any statute of limitations on an employer’s history. As of 2015, OSHA would only look back five years in an employer’s history to determine if a repeat violation was warranted. Now, OSHA has unlimited license to consider past violations.
Most employers know that OSHA fines and violations fall into one of several categories: other-than-serious, serious, willful, and repeat. The more serious the violation, the heftier the fine. Recently, the maximum fine for a repeat violation went up to $129,336, with another increase expected in the near future.
New York Construction Company v. Secretary of Labor
On Aug. 22, 2014, an employee of a New York construction company was injured during a cave-in on a job site in Manhattan. Upon investigation, OSHA found that that the company had failed to protect its workers from cave-ins, and to comply with the applicable standard. This violation would have been its third, with the others occurring in 2009 and 2011.
At that time, OSHA’s standard was to only consider the last three years of an employer’s record, and thus the company challenged the citation. The court ruled that, though the OSHA’s Field Operations Manual stated that “a citation will be issued as a repeated violation if…the citation is issued within three years,” the manual was not binding and there were no firm limitations.
What does this mean for employers?
This ruling makes any citation or fine, no matter how small, a serious matter. Accepting a $12,500 fine today could lead to a $125,000 for a repeat violation in the future. Pay attention to fines involving routine activities and equipment where a repeat is likely to happen.
The best way to avoid fines is to put health and safety first. Keeping your workplace compliant is a big task, but you’re not in it alone. Worksite Medical is dedicated to helping you keep your employees healthy and your business productive, while also keeping you within OSHA compliance.
Our mobile medical units can come directly to your job site and provide medical testing for your employees throughout each shift, so there is minimal disruption to your company’s productivity. We also have workers’ compensation clinics in western Pa. and northeastern Maryland if you need workplace injury care, as well as any other medical testing service. Click Here to view a complete list of our services. We have the same resources as a doctor’s lab and are staffed with highly trained medical professionals. Give us a call at 1-844-OCCUMED or contact us online to schedule your appointment today.
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