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Friday, April 30, 2010

OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program








Alabama@Work
Tommy Eden, Attoney

On April 22, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), announced its new Severe Violator Enforcement Program becomes effective within 45 calendar days of the announcement. OSHA stated purpose is to focus enforcement efforts against employers that demonstrate “indifference to safe workplace responsibilities under the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act.” Employers can be considered severe violators if they”commit willful, repeated, or failure-to-abate violations for certain serious hazards or unsafe work conditions.” The full text of the announcement is at http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=17544


If you are not easily sacred go to OHSA Recent News and take a look at the fines: http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owasrch.search_form?p_doc_type=NEWS_RELEASES&p_toc_level=0&p_keyvalue=&p_status=CURRENT

OSHA also announced its plan to increase the overall dollar amount of penalties that are assessed for OSHA violations. The current maximum penalty for a serious violation, one capable of causing death or serious physical harm, is only $7,000 and the maximum penalty for a willful violation is $70,000. The average penalty for a serious violation will increase from about $1,000 to an average $3,000 to $4,000. Monetary penalties for violations of the OSH Act have been increased only once in 40 years despite inflation. The Protecting America's Workers Act would raise these penalties, for the first time since 1990, to 12,000 and $250,000, respectively. Future penalty increases would also be tied to inflation.

Common Sense Counsel: It is advised that you have a comprehensive safety audit conducted ASAP. The next time the Government “come to help you” the cost of being in the wrong just went up.


Tommy Eden is a Lee County native, an attorney with the local office of Constangy, Brooks & Smith, LLP and a member of the ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law and serves on the Board of Directors for the East Alabama SHRM Chapter. He can be contacted at teden@constangy.com or 334-246-2901. Blog at www.alabamaatwork.com