Safety and OSHA News

House Democrats reintroduce bill to strengthen OSHA

Backed by more solid majorities in the House and Senate, Democrats have reintroduced the Protecting America’s Workers Act which aims to expand OSHA’s reach and increase the penalties it can issue for safety and health violations.

The bill (H.R. 2067) would expand OSHA’s jurisdiction to public employees, including federal, state and local government workers.

Whistleblowers would also get more protection.

But some of the biggest changes would be made to penalties OSHA could issue:

  • Fines for willful and repeat citations would increase, with the minimum changing from $5,000 to $8,000 and the maximum from $70,000 to $120,000.
  • The maximum fine for serious, failure-to-abate and other-than-serious citations would increase from $7,000 to $12,000.
  • The maximum for violations of posting requirements would also increase from $7,000 to $12,000.
  • If a violation causes the death of an employee, civil penalty amounts can range from $50,000 to $250,000, with $25,000 as the minimum for smaller companies with 25 or fewer employees.
  • OSHA could also pursue criminal charges against a company for an employee’s death, including fines and up to ten years in prison for owners and managers. Criminal penalties for serious bodily injury to an employee could include up to five years in prison.

The bill would also increase OSHA fines every four years for inflation.

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Comments

  1. We’re a small construction company struggling to survive, and this is what House Democrats are proposing?! Can’t these people look around and see that the economy is in the tank and that small businesses are suffering? This proposal has to be shelved and all the bums in the House have to voted out of office. I wish them luck finding new jobs.

  2. I am a retired Federal OSHA Compliance officer. I can tell you this administration is looking at every avenue to generate dollars one of which increasing fines.

    If you are an employer with a SIC number related to a hazardous industry OSHA is planning on more record inspections. What does this mean? If you report your loss time/incidents to the Department of Labor (OSHA 30O information) and you report no lost time or very few accident incidents, OSHA believes you not telling the truth and plan to inspect these companies.

    One question I and another CHSO brought up at a recent staff meeting, and that is, what if the company is doing a good job with the safety program and safety culture on thte job site? The area direct and assistant area director’s reply was, “we need at least two violations per inspection!

    For those of you in business, I wish you well and do the best you can to get the word out to your employee’s.

    Tom

  3. Eliminating workplace hazards and preventing injuries should be a top goal of small and large companies, struggling or not. The OSHA fines are too low.

  4. ADOSH (Arizona OSHA) provides free consulting, SCF Arizona the state workers compensation also provides free consulting to the companies it insures. There is simply no reason in Arizona that business should have to worry about OSHA fines. There is simply zero cost to find out if you’re in compliance. There is normally very little cost involved with getting in compliance once you know the changes you need. Most issues with non-compliance I see are simply because of laziness. Change the belts on a compressor and don’t take the time to put the guard back on or don’t take the time to lock out the power source. Someone needs just one small piece of metal that will only take a second in the chop saw but 5 min. to locate their safety glasses and a face shield and after all it’s just one little cut. Employees just won’t wear their seatbelts in the forklifts, so why even try to enforce the OSHA guidelines just hope they never show up and we’re not one of the 100 forklift turnover deaths for this year. If you don’t want a speeding ticket don’t speed. If you don’t want an OSHA fine, work like you care about your workers like you would if they were your children or grandchildren, period.

  5. BILL SMITH says:

    INCREASING THE FINES AND HOLDING TO IT HAS BEEN A LONG TIME COMING. THE SOURCES FOR GETTING INTO COMPLIANCE HAVE INCREASED TREMENDOUSLY OVER THE LAST FEW YEARS THOUGH A LARGE PERCENTAGE OF EMPLOYERS ARE NOT AWARE WHAT IS AVAILABLE. I HAVE ALWAYS VIEWED OSHA AS A PROTECTOR OF THE WORKER AND A TRAINER OF THE EMPLOYER. IN MANY CASES THE COMPLIANCE OFFICERS COME OFF AS THE ENEMY INSTEAD OF A SOURCE OF HELP. MORE SHOULD BE DONE TO EDUCATE THE EMPLOYERS AND FINE THOSE THAT REFUSE TO COME INTO COMPLIANCE. THERE MAY BE A NEW SHERIFF IN TOWN BUT IF THE SHERIFF AND HER DEPUTIES ARE VIEWED AS WEARING BLACK HATS IT HAS A NEGATIVE AFFECT ON SOLVING OUR PROBLEMS

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