Every business covered under the Occupational Safety and Health Act is subject to inspection and potential fines. These code violations are levied against organizations along with substantial fines by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
These fines start at a discretionary rate of $964 to 13,653 per incident and increase from there. That in no way covers the hidden costs of reputational damage or even the loss of business opportunities.
This blog will help you understand the monetary and other types of damage that even one OSHA violation can cause and what you can do about it.
What Is an OSHA Violation?
OSHA’s goal is to ensure safer working environments for employees, customers, visitors, or even innocent bystanders. The regulations they enforce help monitor working conditions across the United States. OSHA audits worksites that fall under these labor-related laws.
Typically, OSHA levies penalties in the form of a fine. However, they can also issue a citation at the discretion of the inspecting officer. This is similar to a highway patrol officer that lets you off with a warning instead of a costly speeding ticket. This warning should signal to the employer that they must mitigate the situation they’re being cited for, typically within a specific timeframe, and the citation becomes a permanent part of the business’s safety record.
Given that federal and state contracts often require a review of these records, it’s important for companies to mitigate the situation that caused the citation.
What Are the Costs of an OSHA Fine?
There are six primary OSHA violations that can cost your business:
- De minimis violation
- Other-than-serious violation
- Serious violation
- Failure to abate the violation
- Willful or repeated violation
- Posting requirements violation
A de minimis violation is the least serious of all OSHA penalties. It usually does not result in a fine but instead is similar to a verbal or written warning designed to put you on notice of an infraction. OSHA will note this in your file and may check back to ensure you’ve corrected the issue. If you have not, the OSHA inspector will likely progress to more serious infractions with financial penalties.
An other-than-serious OSHA infraction shows that the inspector believes your business has a health or safety concern that must be mitigated but that will probably not bring about the death of someone on your property. This citation could cost you up to $13,653 per violation, however, whether to charge this fine is up to the discretion of your inspector.
A serious OSHA violation should put you on notice that there is some condition in your business that could cause serious physical harm or death to someone. This could include innocent bystanders, as we see in the case of crane collapses or the ghost ship warehouse fire. In addition to the potential for loss of life, these fines should make businesses stand up and take notice, at a cost of $13,653 per incident.
Failure to abate a violation not only will ruin your relationship with your OSHA inspector, the fine has some serious teeth, with a penalty usually of the maximum amount, $13,653 per each day the abatement fails to occur. As you can imagine, this can certainly add up.
Willful or repeated violations of OSHA rules can get the book thrown at your business. The penalties are higher up to $136,532 per incident for repeated violations within a three-year timeframe. The same high penalties can occur if you ignore and fail to mitigate your OSHA citation.
Posting requirements violations might seem less costly, especially if you simply failed to put up a required poster in the kitchen break room. However, OSHA takes this very seriously and can fine you up to the $13,653 maximum amount for each violation.
Are There Other Costs Related to an OSHA Violation?
There are hidden costs associated with repeated OSHA infractions, as well. For example, there are potential public relations ramifications related to OSHA citations that lead to someone being injured or killed as a result of your negligence. Employees will feel less safe on the job, which could lead to retention difficulties.
Many industries now require contractors to report any serious OSHA infractions. Government contractors may also face increased scrutiny that could cost them lucrative federal or state contracts. Many of these agencies not only require reporting but they have a threshold as to how many OSHA violations they will tolerate. You could miss out on hundreds of thousands in potential contracts as a result.
Businesses are also judged on their experience modification ratio (EMR) , which take into account injuries and illnesses reported on OSHA 300 forms. If you have a high number of OSHA reportable events or a history of safety violations, you will likely miss out on lucrative contracts. Not to mention the high cost of worker’s compensation along with employee rehabilitation should someone be injured on the job.
However, there is some good news: Companies can offset their OSHA penalties by 41% simply by taking steps to mitigate the violations and lessen the risks associated with having a potentially unsafe workplace.
Another way to improve your OSHA outcomes is with telemedicine. OrthoLive offers employers an effective, proven system for mitigating worker injuries on the job that can save you thousands and get your employees back to work fast.
How Can You Improve OSHA Compliance With Telemedicine Injury Care?
OrthoLive offers businesses a unique model for workforce injury care available 24/7/365 wherever work happens. We leverage technology to bring a network of on-call musculoskeletal providers to the site of a workplace injury when it happens within minutes.
With just a cell phone, laptop, or computer your team can access a clinician who can provide immediate triage for an injured employee. Given that most workplace injuries are minor orthopedic strains or sprains, we can help you provide a measured response that potentially keeps your employee out of the ER.
OrthoLive has a strong track record of helping businesses reduce their recordable OSHA events. Our Remote Injury Care solution can save you time, money, and get your workforce back on the job faster. Talk with our team today to see what we can do for your business.
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