OSHA Will Be Increasing  Fines Up To 400% for Reporting Violations

This new standard Last January OSHA implemented the new injury and illness reporting guidelines, these new guidelines were called “Interim Enforcement Procedures for New Reporting Requirements under 29 C.F.R. 1904.39.” With this new standard OSHA will be increasing fines up to 400% for failing to report a work related incident.

The new interim procedures served as the standard that Area Offices and compliance enforcement officer would use when issuing citations to employers that did not meet the reporting deadlines under the new requirements.

Well just recently the Occupational Safety and Health Administration revised those new procedures and standards with even newer ones called “Revised Interim Enforcement Procedures

Under 29 C.F.R. 1904.39.” The reason for the newest standards was because of the increase of workplace incident reports to OSHA along with the officers in the field experiences with the new reporting requirements.

In very simplistic terms what this means for employers is the following:

  • OSHA will be increasing fines up to 400% for failing to report a work related injury in a timely manner.
  • And depending on the report of the enforcement officer in the field your business could face a greater likelihood of have an OSHA Inspection.

Under 29 CFR §1904.39, employers must report an in-patient hospitalization, amputation, or eye loss to OSHA within 24 hours of the incident. Under the old standard, the recommended maximum fine for failing to comply was $1,000, which did not include the reductions that were granted to small business. Under the new standard the penalty is $5,000. The new standards still retains the right, of area directors to increase the fine to $7,000 to accomplish the “necessary deterrent effect” for failing to report work incidents, which will still be classified as “other than serious.” All other failure to report penalties will remain the same as before. OSHA issued 627 citations for reporting violations in fiscal year 2015, with fines averaging $1,445, Bloomberg BNA reported.

The new standards gives area offices the right to conduct “monitoring inspections” of employers that were not inspected at the time of the first contact with OSHA when reporting a serious injury but had promised either in writing or by phone that they would conduct their own in house investigation of the workplace accident and make the needed abatement’s to ensure the safety of the company’s employees.

On the positive side OSHA does promise that they will not use the company’s in house documentation of the accident to cite hazards found during the OSHA inspection. The employer can count on this as long as employees are not exposed to a serious hazard and can prove to OSHA that “diligent steps to correct the condition” are being taken to ensure the workplace is safe for all employees.

These new standards replace the old standards that were issued in December 2014, those standards were in place just prior to the reporting rule that went into effect January 1, 2015.  The basis for the revisions were based upon the experience of the enforcement officers in the field.

Even though these new directives are for the OSHA field officers, they do give employers and real heads up.  This heads up can really help employers to be prepared.  The problem is many employers are not paying attention and because they are not taking these matters of safety seriously OSHA has taken the matters into their own hands and now it will cost employers a lot of money in  fines and even civil lawsuits that go on long after the workers compensation aspects of the case have been settled.

While OSHA Will Be Increasing Fines Up To 400% now, if employers do not wake up and get in compliance more increases and more enforcement will be coming down the road.  For California Employers this new law will apply to you as well since OSHA is providing over 50% of Cal-OSHA’S budget.