Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has many initiatives to protect workers. In addition to inspecting worksites, responding to complaints and reports of accidents, and passing regulations, OSHA also imposes fines on employers. An employer can be fined by OSHA if the agency determines the employer has violated any workplace safety rules. Avoiding these fines is one reason why employers may make an effort to create safe worksites. Now, employees could have even more incentive to follow the rules because OSHA fines are rising.
Regardless of whether or not an employer is violating OSHA rules, an employee can take action to get benefits after a work injury. Workers’ compensation in Georgia gives workers the right to benefits even in situations where employers do not violate regulations and where employers do everything right.
An injured worker needs to report his injuries and prove they are work-related and that should be enough to get benefits. An Atlanta work injury lawyer can help with this process. Of course, while benefits are available in a broad array of situations, it is still best if injuries don’t happen…and the rising OSHA fines could help that happen.
Rising OSHA Fines Help Prevent Atlanta Work Injuries
Safety News Alert reported on the rising OSHA fines. According to Safety News Alert, the increase occurred on January 13, 2017. The higher fines officially became effective on that date, and applied even when violations were found in earlier inspections that happened before January.
The increase in fines is 1.64 percent. This can be a substantial amount of money in some cases. For example, the new maximum fines for a repeat and willful violation will be $126,749 now, up from $124,709.
The 1.64 percent increase is equal to the rate of inflation, as calculated in October of 2016. The increase is based on inflation because of a provision in a budget bill that was passed in August of 2016. The budget bill increased OSHA fines for the first time since 1990, resulting in a dramatic 78 percent increase in maximum fine amounts. The budget bill also gave OSHA the authority, at its discretion, to permit an increase in maximum fines equal to the amount of inflation.
While individual fines may not always be that high under OSHA’s rules, the fines can add up quickly. Already in 2016, there have been “significant enforcement cases,” which is defined as a situation where the initial penalties imposed by OSHA exceed $180,000. There have also been multiple examples since the higher maximum fines were put into place where employers have ended up being fined more than half-a-million dollars.
Employers need to be aware of the possibility of big fines if they fail to follow worker safety rules, and they should make an effort to follow all OSHA guidelines. Not only will this help protect an employer’s pocketbook, but it will also help keep workers from suffering devastating injury.
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.