With an increase in the maximum fines that Occupational Safety and Health Administration can assess after a work injury, the hope is that more employers will be inclined to follow workplace safety rules. Unfortunately, many employers may not worry about the fines because it is so common for OSHA to reduce the penalties which are imposed. Safety News Alert reported on this issue recently, indicating that many safety experts and worker advocates believe that OSHA reduces fines far too frequently, even in situations where a safety violation results in the loss of a worker’s life.
When an employee is hurt or killed on-the-job, the employee needs to know what options he or she has for pursuing a work injury claim. Benefits are available after workplace illnesses, injuries, and deaths and the benefits available through workers’ comp may be an employee’s only option for getting costs covered following an injury. An Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyer can provide assistance in securing these benefits, so at least employees won’t face financial loss, even if their employers have limited accountability.
Too Many OSHA Fines are Reduced After Atlanta Work Accidents
The troubling news on OSHA penalty reductions comes from recent research conducted by the Center for Progressive Reform. The study demonstrated there was an average reduction in OSHA fines of as much as 36 percent in situations where a worker died as a result of his injuries. This means when OSHA determines the amount of compensation an employer should pay for conditions that lead to a lost life, OSHA then ends up reducing the amount due by close to 40 percent.
This is an especially big issue because the fines that OSHA determines are appropriate are generally pretty low to begin with. For example, the median initial penalty imposed by OSHA in situations where a worker is killed is just $9,800. As low as this is, employers actually end up paying even less, with the median penalty actually paid coming to $6,300.
In situations where there is a willful violation, the initial median penalty assessed by OSHA is $140,000. However, the final median penalty was much lower, at $98,000. This means the penalty in the case of an intentional violation of safety rules is reduced by as much as 30 percent.
Poultry processors tend to get an especially good deal from OSHA when it comes to their violations. While the initial median penalty for violations by poultry processors was $19,940, OSHA ended up reducing this by around 46 percent on average, so the final penalty paid ended up at just $7,000.
OSHA reduces penalties so the agency can reach settlements with employers and get quick fixes to safety problems. Unfortunately, that means that fines- which are already low- become even lower and prove to be almost no deterrent at all.
Even if employers don’t have to pay large fines, workers should still get all of their costs covered. Workers’ compensation can make that possible, if an employee makes a successful workers’ comp claim.
Parsons & Associates, P.C. is an Atlanta workers’ compensation law firm serving Atlanta, Savannah, and surrounding areas throughout Fulton County. Contact Parsons & Associates, P.C. today at 770-422-9000 or contact us online if you have been injured at work.