Feds Figure Out How to Make Workplace Safety a Profit Center – But Not For The Employers
Just in case you missed our earlier post, effective August 1, the Department of Labor issued a new rule implementing significantly higher penalties upon employers for Occupational Safety and Health Act violations. After August 1, the new penalty rates will be effective for any violations which occurred after November 2, 2015.
By way of example, a willful or repeated violation citation jumps from a $70,000 maximum fine to $124,709. The odd numbers come from the fact that the changes are implemented pursuant to the Inflation Adjustment Act of 2015, which required the DOL and other federal agencies to increase their penalties based on inflation since the penalties were last upped. Subsequently, the Inflation Adjustment Act requires annual adjustments for inflation based on the consumer price index. But, it is not just OSHA violations that will be costlier, it is all across the board, from FMLA to violations of minimum wage and overtime rules. So, be sure to check that all of your posters are current, as there are fines for inadequate postings for such laws as Title VII, FMLA, Wage & Hour, Workers' Compensation, etc.
To lessen those chances of an OSHA fine, all employers should consider whether their states have programs that provide for workplace safety evaluations by trained consultants, who can identify safety hazards, which if corrected and certain commitments are made to control workplace injuries, may allow the employer to be removed from OSHA's programed inspection list. Other states provide free safety consultation resources, which can help an employer avoid potential willful or repeated citations.
In a time of a spiraling federal government deficit, you can bet that any form of revenue- generating opportunities will be enthusiastically pursued. So, lack of compliance has never been costlier.