Safety and OSHA News

Time to boost OSHA fines for deaths and injuries?

With a new administration coming to the White House, it’s likely companies will see some changes from OSHA. Among the possibilities: higher fines for workplace fatalities and injuries.

President-elect Obama has supported the Protecting America’s Workers Act as a Senator.

The bill would increase OSHA penalties:

  • maximums for serious and repeat violations would go from $7,000 to $10,000
  • top fines for willful violations would increase to $100,000 from $70,000, and
  • fines for workplace deaths would be a minimum of $50,000, a maximum of $250,000, and up to ten years in prison.

OSHA fines low by comparison

Elected officials who support increases in OSHA fines say they would act as a deterrent to companies that want to skimp on safety. While responsible companies, like yours, are paying for all the necessary safety tools to prevent injuries, other bad actors see an occasional employee injury as just the price of doing business because it’s cheaper that way.

Elected officials also argue that current fines aren’t enough of a deterrent. Some examples:

  • Employee dies at railroad crossing, company fined $2,250
  • Trench cave-in kills two employees: company fined $11,200, and
  • Fatal electrocution: company fined $37,000.

Compare those fines to some issued by other federal agencies.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) can fine a TV or radio station up to $325,000 for indecent content.

In other words, having a potty mouth on TV can garner a fine that’s ten times worse than when a person dies or is seriously and/or permanently injured at work.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fines for incidents in which no employees were injured or killed are also higher than OSHA fines. Some recent examples:

  • Company dumps untreated hazardous wastes: Owner could face up to 15 years in prison and $750,000 if convicted
  • Company fails to inspect its diesel fleet for compliance with smoke control rules: $114,000, and
  • Mishandling hazardous waste and used batteries leads to $190,000 penalty for another firm.

So, we’d like to hear from you on this issue. We all know that some companies put their employees’ lives at risk every day by not taking proper safety precautions. Here’s the question: Should the federal government increase OSHA fines for deaths and serious injuries? Would this be a deterrent to companies that don’t pay enough attention to worker safety? You can let us know what you think by dropping us a note in the Comments Box below.

For more information on the Protecting America’s Workers Act, click here.

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  • B

    It is imperative the fines are raised. A company who invests in safety for its employees cannot compete in the market place with the company that refuses to implement safety programs. The longer congress waits the more deaths and serious injuries will occur. Please do not delay.

  • Tim

    Although I agree with increased fines/penalties 100%, I would like to see what these specific incedents had as far as civil suit awards as well. I believe that this information would greatly influence how someone/a company looks at the costs of NOT complying would run them.

  • Terri

    Alot of companies look at the fines as just a small amount and they don’t even bat a eye at the fines. I know the company that I work for thinks this way and goes right on as long as the job gets done. It makes it very hard to make a change within the company.

  • Rich

    OSHA fines after a death or injury will never prevent the injury that has already occurred. Inspection and fines for incomplete programs and unsafe acts that have the potential for death or injury may. Large fines along with civil suits may put an unsafe manufacturer out of business causing many too loose jobs and still leave the problem unsolved. Fining after the fact just becomes a death tax or a vehicle to shut a business down. It is imperative that safety inspection takes place before the problems occur and fines are levied for companies caught allowing an unsafe work environment at those inspections. OSHA checking on companies before they begin manufacturing helping companies initiate the proper safety programs and suprise inspecting on regular frequencies after that might. As long as companies are only checked or fined for safety after they hurt or kill someone the problem will never be corrected.

  • Randy

    I agree with Rich for the most part. Most companies are not the big unfeeling monster that doesn’t care if people get hurt or killed! These buisness people put their neck on the line every day to provide jobs for their employees.OSHA has a good training program to get companies into compliance. Most often employers already feel bed enough when someone is injured. to impose higher (or any) fines and civil penalties is just crazy! thet can possibly put the rest of the employees out of work. A lot of the companies fined are small buisnesses, just hanging on anyway. If cost were no problem why wouldn’t any smart buisness be safe? What we really need is a tax insentive or a straight out cash bonus of increasing amounts for buisnesses who are continually in compliance and/or have a continued safety record. Lets get positive in our approach instead of focusing on after the fact wish i woulda!!

  • Dave

    Just raising fines isn’t the answer. Pro-active training along with better standard and regulation enforcement should be the focus. Make it easier to get every employee the training they need and more inspections before an employee is involved in an incident seems to be the best way to go. If the focus is really going to be “Employee Safety”, then lets focus on reducing risk through better training and regulation enforcement.
    I’m not saying fines shouldn’t be part of the process, but as an instructor, I’ve found if an employee has the tools to do his or her job, they will use them. Granted some will not, but that’s where Safety Incentives and regulation enforcement help.

  • Curley

    Randy’s statement “Most often employers already feel bed enough when someone is injured. (T)o impose higher (or any) fines and civil penalties is just crazy! thet can possibly put the rest of the employees out of work. ”

    Feeling bad is expected. I’d rather see employees OUT OF WORK and looking for safe employment than having to go to their funeral!! The OSHAct of 1970 has been around for a very long time. It’s about time company management did jail time for their egregious negligence

  • Kent

    If businessmen were homicidal maniacs trying to kill their employees, threatening 10 years in prison would be an effective deterent; but as everyone should know, most fatalities do not come from homicidal maniacs. Often, negligence on the part of employees or their fellow employees plays a large role in the fatality; yet, we never see any suggestion that they be fined or imprisoned. We only see the punishments visited on an employer who may not even be present at the time of the incident and may well have acted to stop the improper behavior if he had been.

    I see more potential prevention of fatalities in mandatory safety committees which include input from the workers’ compensation insurer’s Loss Control Professionals combined with a requirement that recalcitrant refusal to address recognized OSHA violations be reported by the insurer to the local OSHA office.

    Currently, compensation policies preclude such reporting by inspectors. Combine that gag rule with a requirement to insure “assigned risks” and it greatly reduces the influence of compensation policy holder inspections. Many insurers do not even bother to do much inspection of assigned risks because of these counterproductive rules. Remember, there are a lot more loss control professionals at insurance companies than there are OSHA inspectors–make better use of them.

  • Thom

    I agree with Randy-Fines are not the answer. The income from fines goes to the government and we’ve all seen how they spend our money. I could see a point where OSHA is “finding” fault in order to pay for OSHA expenses–kind of self serving.

    While enforcement “threats” are important to keep workers safe (3rd party inspections)-after an unsafe event (accident) the fine is too late.

    I would prefer an ISO 14001 type approach where companies must be certified by a 3rd party–integrating OSHA and EPA compliance.

    Leave the “fines” to the courts and lawsuits.

  • Joe the Manufacturer

    I agree with increasing fines but I think it would be more effective to have OSHA provide more education and support. Our company was inspected because one of our employees cut his finger pretty badly. We have a safety committee and we have meetings each month. We are constantly working with our employees to make our facility very safe. However, I must tell you when the OSHA inspector came to our facility after inspection he wrote us up for a plug under a water cooler that did not have a plastic cover on the outlet. We had never even looked under that unit – we lease our facility so we did not build or inspect it for those things originally. I thought it was a petty citation. He told us that our facility was one of the safest and cleanest he had ever seen. After the inspection we met in our conference room. He was actually leaning back on the back legs of the chair he was sitting in while talking with me (front legs raised up off the ground). I asked him if he would please sit properly because we don’t allow that type of action in our company. He got a pissed off look on his face. I said, “I am sorry, but that is just not safe”. My point to this whole story is: while I agree that we need to make sure we do everything we can to make our company’s safe we need to have responsible government and agents thereof.

  • http://SafetyNewsalert Tom

    Higher fines will not help. It all starts with Management being pro-active in the safety at the location. Effective training, not just hand out a sheet of paper to be signed must be done.
    What everyone must understand it takes everyone to make a workplace safe. From the new employee to the top Manager. I know of Companies that will just pay the fine and not change anything.

  • safety guy

    OSHA should concentrate on learning about the industries they police, rather than the amount of the fines they issue. fines are only 1 part of the issue, when a cause or unsafe condition exists an abatement protocol is then mandated. the abatement and future prevention is the main issue. too many times in my experienc OSHA has entered the scene with guns blazing, only to incorrectly cite violations that did not exist and miss the ones that did. Inept government agencies should not be rewarded with increased power, they should be scaled back and better trained.

  • http://SafetyNewAlert Walt West

    OSHA has been asking for increases in fines for years and congress would not agree. In my opinion, raising the level of fines will increase the demand for safety professionals, particularly in the construction business. You would be surprised at how many construction company’s don’t have safety directors or even a written safety program. There is no question that bigger fines will reduce accidents and fatalities in the work place

  • Bryan

    Fines should be raised for serious injuries and deaths. However, they should not be raised for Serious or Willful Violations were no injury or Death is involved.

  • dave Lemke

    As long as it is “not” assumed the Owner and company are guilty without investigation into existing program and training then raise fines. Sock it to those who are ignoring safety and not doing the research, providing Training and placing people at risk in the name of profits.
    In addition implement mandatory consultation, follow up observation, training and consultation, mandatory for the responsible owner or company to stay in business: or have any other business, should they choose to change their name and start again. Appoint “Case workers or Probation Officers”, appointed by either Federal or State Health and Safety Consult groups who work hand in hand with compliance groups. These appointed safety professionals could also be private from a certified proffessional. Just kicking some ideas around. No amount of money ever fills the void of a lost life, nor does it insure Change in a bad environment. Force the training and appoint an evaluator to determine whether the company should be aloud to stay in business.

  • AMF

    I agree fines should go up and the public has to be made aware of these increases and why. The Stats show it all. The company Managers from top to bottom should be made aware of these increase and why. At the same time, the government should back up programs such as SCATS and other safety programs to help us Safety Teams keep us informed. As everyone is aware many companies do not have a safety program and should be held accountable for their actions. Our Safety Committee meet once a month, plus we put together our own Accident Investigation Team who have experience with investigations (Security and Quality Assurance staff).

  • Brenda

    I truly believe and agree in the increasing of fines to many companies. I also agree that there should be more awarness and training regarding safety in the workplace.

    I lost my husband a year and three months, he got electrecuted. The accident was because of negligence on his superiors part and the work equipment was in a very poor condition. I was five months pregnant with our first child.

    What suprised me is that the company was fined by OSHA and belive it or not, the company only paid $8,000 when the fine for fatal electrocution should be $37,000. I know that no fine or money is going to bring back my baby’s father but I belive that if fines were raised, companies would prefer to spend more money on safety issues than on paying more on fines for fatalities or injuries.
    This way more lifes could be saved!!!!!

  • Darrel

    Increase the fines across the board. I understand the after-the-fact issues that some of the above comments allude to, but I think the threat of greater monetary punishment will result in greater prevention efforts…and isn’t prevention what we – and OSHA -are all about?

  • Hank

    Yes, the fines need to be increased, and not just for serious injuries/fatalities. No, that is not a cure-all, and it should not be done with the expectation that the increase is a ‘stand-alone’ solution.

    Something has to be done to address the employee who simply doesn’t follow established procedures, and will not perform to clearly defined standards.

    Positive incentives are a valuable tool to encourage employers to improve their safety efforts. In addition, imposed fines should be flexible and able to be mitigated or reduced based on ‘good faith efforts’: if they demonstrate a good faith effort but missed something, their fine should be reduced.

    Information and training should be more readily available to demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of proactive program activities.

    AND regulatory compliance agencies and officers should be required to have actual field safety experience as well as effective training in investigation (both severely lacking). Finally, 1910 and 1926 need to be completely revised. Lawyers and legislators need to be prohibited from being part of that process.

    As a note of interest, OSHA does not get the funds from fines: it goes to the General Fund. Several years ago Compliance Officers actively campaigned against the idea of OSHA keeping funds from fines, on the grounds that it would be a conflict of interest.

  • http://yahoo.com David

    Fines are great and may help provide incentives to top management to comply with OSHA laws, but they can in and of themselves develop the safety culture within an organization. An additional regulatory step that would help is to require organizations in certain hazardous industries to maintain X number of competent safety professionals per X number of hazardous positions. This would be particularly helpful in the residential construction business.

  • Pat

    Rather than fines, OSHA should be providing grants for companies to help decrease the potential for injuries. I work in a nursing home and in order to get grant money the home has to put up 1/2 the cost first. Most nursing homes can’t even afford to pay for 1/2 of what new equipment or increased number of employees working. I worked in a hospital for almost 30 years and was overwhelmed by the lack of funding available for nursing homes and yet the state and federal regulations demand more and more documentation, etc. which is incredibly time consuming and requires more working hours.

  • Hank

    “OSHA should be providing grants …” Uh, with Whose money? Government does not generate funds, they take YOURS. NO MORE Government giveaways… The Fed is already way too far into subsidizing private enterprise. In addition, grants would be treating the symptom not the problem.

    Nursing homes and other medical or similar businesses do indeed have an incredible (and unreasonable) burden of records. The solution is to address the problem, not to throw money at the symptom.

  • Dennis

    The only way to deter bad or improper behavior from a business is to hit them in the pocketbook. Punitive damages awareded at civil trial are just that – a form of punishment. No one can lock up a business. You bet raise the fines and to ensure the punishment hurts, it is to be paid immediately. No time payments, no installments and no waivers. Make the punishment swift, sure and consistent. The cost of implementing safety requirements and maintaining a safe work place MUST be cheaper than the consequences.

  • Larry Savant

    I get really tired of hearing some people say that the answer to all of our problems is to fine or penalize the evil, bad, mean Companies that provide the jobs that allow Americans to earn a paycheck. My Company does everything it can to provide a safe wrokplace for our employees. We provide safe tools, safety equipment, safety training for our employees to show them how to properly use the tools and safety equipment, drug screening, weekly safety meetings, and constant reminders to work safely for their own benefit as well as for the employees working around them. But, now matter how hard the Company tries to stess safety, accidents happen. Usually accidents happen because the employee failed to follow safe working procedure not because the Company was remiss in not providing a safe working environment. If you want the Nations safety record to improve you have to stop putting 100% of the responsibility for accidents on the Companies back and begin placing at least part of the blame for accidents where it should be, on the employees back
    when it is evident the accident happened because the employee failed to follow safe working procedures even though the employee had the training and safety equipment on hand to prevent the accident from happening. If employees had to pay a share of the fine or penalty imposed as the result of a workplace accident then employees would not be so cavalier in their attitude about workplace safety. Under present Government Policy employees seem to have no responsibility to keep the workplace safe. All responsibility is laid onto the employer. That’s just not right! Employers and employees both have reponsibility to make the workplace a safe environment and Government Policy with regard to fines and penalties imposed as an incentive to safe working practices should reflect that dual responsibility.

  • Hank

    Dennis says: “The only way to deter bad or improper behavior from a business is to hit them in the pocketbook.”
    Actually, we know that is not true. It IS true that any punishment must be significant, consistent and prompt; but there are other very effective means to change safety performance. Actually, there are MORE effective ways, long term. Fear is always a deterrent; it is not always the most effective change agent.

    Larry S says: “I get really tired of hearing some people say that the answer to all of our problems is to fine or penalize…”
    You can actually stop there, and be accurate. And your point is well made that often the problem is not callous disregard by corporate management. After more than 25 years in this business, my experience is that the majority of persistent safety issues are either knowledge issues or ‘how-to’ issues: both responsive to training. When the OSHAct was enacted, the problem was primarily Management: as you mention, today the problem is just as likely to be performance to standards by individual employees.

    “Under present Government Policy employees seem to have no responsibility to keep the workplace safe.
    Indeed, this is always a problem when we allow Government to assume responsibility for Private Enterprise and events in the Free Marketplace. Businesses failed to address the problem of safety, until Government intervened: now all businesses have to pay the price of that failure to be proactive. That’s why I said the Standards (and indeed, the Act itself) needs revision.

  • Bruce Cunha

    I favor a tiered approach. Do inspections and help companies correct violations. If they fail to correct, then large fines are justified. A fatality for a trenching safet issue is unexcusable in this day and age. A company that has not already implemeted strict requirements should not be in business.

    I have been working Safety for 30+ years and know that most employers try to provide a safe environment. Some don’t yet get it. For these, hitting them in the pocket ( or with jail time) may be the only way to get them to correct safety issues. I have no issue with increasing fines if a company is in flagrant violation and not doing the maximum they can do to protect employees. I do have a problem with fining companies that are truly trying to provide a safe work environment, or fines because a disgruntled employee calls them.

  • Mark Nelson

    Hello, I would like you to share my opinion. We have had two fatalities this year here in our small town. They were both at the same time and location ( it was confined space deaths) . The employer was fined $7,500 each death. My personal feelings are that that is way too cheap for a mans life. Here is why, it is cheaper for the employer to kill the employee than it is to protect them. And lets face it in business it’s all about the bottom line. If the fine does not hurt the bottom line the behavior will not change. I believe our society has grown away from a caring nurturing environment at work to one of worker/employer. There is no relationship in most business today and that simply means people don’t care, this is an unfortunate failure of modern society.
    Mark Nelson
    Risk Manager KCC

  • Terry

    Hello everyone. it seems to be a concensus that fines to very little change the attitude of an employer and an increase in these fines is typical of a bunch of bureaucrats who think they know all the answers. Why do I say this, I was a senior level OSHA Investigator for 13 years and conducted over 125 fatalitiy investigations. It’s not the OSHA fines the employer needs to worry about. When a company is cited for a Serious or Willful violation that lead to a serious injury or death of an employee the family will use the OSHA Citation in a Civil Suit where the employer will have to pay serious amounts of money for their negligence. The family in almost all cases will use the Citation to show negligence on behalf of the employer.
    Some of the real “bad actors” who really operate unsafe operations and end up seriously injuring or killing an employee will just go out of business and start again under a new company name. There are some provisions to track these individuals but in my 13 years with OSHA they never tracked an employer who closed down after a death and started up under a new name and a clean slate.
    Lots of things to think about……Federal fines are good where they’re at as a deterrent….the old days of 100.00 fines really didn’t work……state OSHA plans are way behind the eight-ball in issuing fines and enforcing the law.
    Enough said…have a good day.

  • http://SafetyNewsAlert Pat

    I feel the fines should go up but, the employers are not the only ones that need to be fined. The employees should also take some of the responsibilty. Time and time again I present safety training to the employees and they take it with a gain of salt. They go about their jobs and could careless if they wear the proper PPE or make sure the guards are on. I have told them to put on the safety glasses or get a mask on but they do what they want.

  • Guido

    I agree with Pat. The employees need to be accountable for their actions. They (employees) have responsibilities, but no accountability. If, after training, the EE’s are doing what they WANT, and NOT doing what they’re told is regulation, give them jail time too.

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  • injured

    The amount of fines going up is great. I worked for AT&T where many workers have been injured or now have either cancer, respiratory problems, etc. Would be nice to see them clean up their act.

  • Terry

    Increase the fines…….Increasing fines will NOT make an employer more likely to comply. I worked for OSHA for 15 years and I have to admit when the fines went from a couple hundred dollars to several thousand dollars there was more of an incentive to comply. The trouble with raising the fines from 7 to 10,000 and 25,000 to 50,000 does not affect the “BAD ACTORS” at all. The companies that deserve these types of fines can just as easily go out of busness and start up again the next day under a new name with a clean slate. I know because I’ve seen it happen many many times over the 30 years I’ve been in the business.
    There is supposed to be some follow up to employers who do this but it does NOT exist. OSHA will not use their OSHA Area Office funding to spend on legal fees and officers time to chase some employer who started up under a new name. This is bottom line people.
    Higher fines do nothing for the “GOOD EMPLOYER”. The construction company I’m with has around 300 employees and will spend probably 90,000 just in personal protective equipment. We also do annual training for all supervisors and key personnel, orientation programs, safety meetings weekly, strict enforcement, etc.
    But when you get a cowboy compliance officer on your job who is trying to make a name for himself for the Area Director or the Region to promote himself/herself a so called “Good Actor” can fall victim to a lot governmental garbage that includes investigations, lawyer fees, time away from work, etc.
    You can have the best program in the world and without too much effort it would be easy to find 3 or 4 serious violations on any job. Again, I know because I did it for many years.
    When you have a so called “Quota” that never exists according to OSHA you go out and do inspections and get the number of “Serious” and “Willful” to meet your quota for the year. If you can throw in a “Willful” over a 100,000.00 in the pot you really get the recognition from the Regional OSHA Office. And, what do you know…..you’re the man.

    The fines should remain where they are. The Serious and the Willfuls are already expensive. OSHA needs to continue working on inspecting the bad actors and leave the employers who work daily on safety programs alone. More, More, More is not always the answer. Voluntary Protection Programs, Employer Assistance Programs, Partnerships, etc. are the way to go. If you want to stop accidents then go after the bad actors through investigations, complaints, referrals, etc.

    I’ve worked both sides of the fence for over 30 years. People have to realize what goes on in the private sector especially in the construction business. Whe you bid a project you are sent a Pre-Bid Approval Application. The application is usually quite lengthy but guess what most of the application is about? Right! Safety. An owner, general contractor or construction manager will totally blow away a potential bidder just through the pre-bid application process. One questions that can make or break a contractor is “have you been cited by OSHA in the last 3 or maybe 5 years”? If you have a Serious Violation for some reason, which for those of you who really know, is not impossible to have. You can be eliminated from the bidding process. This does NOT mean you’re a bad contractor. Rule of thumb in the bidding world is if your Lost Work Day Incident Rate is above 5.0 you’re eliminated as well as many other numbers that can result in a disqualification.

    Larger fines are not the answer unless the current administration just sees it as a new and improved source of revenue for the “POT” which we all know is almost empty. Why wouldn’t they raise the fines… MONEY and MORE MONEY To fund all their programs.
    It’s time for OSHA and especially the EPA to to be governed by individuals who have a real grasp on what makes our economy work. More regulations, stricter regualtions is NOT the answer. All these additional burdens on all of our industries only restricts growth, prevents expansion and regulates our society out of competition.
    Enough said, unless you’ve worked both sides of the fence and see what goes inside the U.S. Department of Labor, OSHA and the EPA you would be hard pressed to give an educated guess on why OSHA fines should be increased.

  • Harry L.

    Increasing fines is not the answer to the problem. I see the problem as 2 parts. First some of the regulations have been made by people who have no experience in the area they are making regulations for. They see an area they think is unsafe and come up with this 1 size fits all regulation. This regulation then results in more chances of injury which causes the employee to be angry and decide he won”t follow the regulation. There are often other ways the employee can be kept safer but these do not count with the all-knowing regulation makers. This leads to part 2, the employee needs to be responsible for a part of the fine. He can be given every training course and every bit of safety equipment there is yet decide to do his own thing for a minute and get caught resulting for a large fine for employer. The employee is off free. If employer decides to fire employee who doesn’t follow all the regulations, the employee just goes down the street and starts work for your competitor. The cycle just keeps repeating.
    The employer especially in small business which may have jobs going in many widespread locations can not have a fulltime regulation guard at every job every minute of the day. That would be cost prohibitive and stupid.
    We need to get rid of the “blame everybody but the person that made the decision to ignore safety”: attitude that is dominant in our society. Only then will we trully make progress in keeping our people safe

  • http://safetyattitudes.biz Nestor Arboleda

    Increasing fines? Is possible that they understand the fines is for a reason…but also the employee shall be fine for improper behavior in the place of work! As Outreach Trainer, is necessary to understand the necessity of PPE in the workplace! Also the management need to reach out to help the company to prevent fines and irresponsabilities from the workers…they internally can propose rules and regulations to any worker that not follow the OSHA regulation as preventing gets hurt on the job! No blame anyone. All of us we have sometimes loose track on anything we do, for rushing to complete the task or because we are afraid to get reprimand by the Worse supervisor, that not understand the safe rule in the place of work and as consequent is an accident, that not need to happen. Who is responsible??? When we have zero tolerance in workplace around the country?

  • Raider

    I was injured and now will not ever run and play with my children. My injury was due to employer negligence and OSHA only issued small fines for serious violations. If prison time was mandatory in serious injury cases when due to employer negligence then workplace safety would improve overnight. OSHA should rename itself BULLXXXX!

  • Dennis Forsythe

    Let’s see according to the above a 29 year old mans life costs less than $40,000.00 in fines. The one thing in this world that is irreplaceable is human life. A while ago I received some notes when I posted in favor of a company allowing showering when there was a possibility of the employee being exposed to chemicals. Some comments I received made a case regarding time vrs profit in a corporations others stated that there was no evidence the chemicals were not proven dangerous, there were other observations and comments. But what the above shows and what that attitude fosters is our species has a history of profit above all else including protecting human life. Some examples are

    • Asbestos –at one time considered safe and the miracle of the age, later on it is proven that exposure causes a form of cancer also it is proven that exposure from the transporting of it on clothing and other things also causes cancer.

    • Then a Birth Control Pill- A birth control pill for women that had a benefit of clearing skin of breakouts now linked to several preventable illnesses and deaths

    • VOC’s –Or volatile organic compounds used in everything from paint to furniture polish that are now shown to cause a variety of illness and dangers still in use today but somewhat controlled with many standards that are ignored.

    • Lead – As a component in paint and manufacturing originally considered a benefit as it was fire retardant and prolonged the life of the paint there was also lead crystal considered the top crystal to have drinks out of etc. Now lead is shown to cause a variety of illnesses from sterility to death.

    The list can go on and on at a huge cost to our most valuable resource…..Human Beings. I am posting this because if a 29 year old person’s life is only worth less than $40,000.00 in fines and (from another article) what is a minor cost in the manner of showering after working in an area where there is a likelihood of a chemical exposure. An exposure that can have a negative effect in the future then what incentive is there to protect anyone if there is a cost associated to the protection? And who makes these decisions? The government? The firms doing business? Then there is what folk should be protected? The off the street worker? Someone just starting their working life? An executive running a company? Yes companies need to make a profit but at the cost of human life? That was how we got Labor unions, OSHA, Human Rights etc.

    One answer is a cry I seldom hear “Safety First” and ongoing training in safety management with reasonable “Risk Assessments” that include the onsite workers. Another possible answer is that in addition to the fines being increased there should be criminal charges brought against companies that are not safety minded and do not enforce saftey standards.

  • Harry Fodge

    Raising fines on the company is not the best solution. I find a lot of the safety regulations are cookie cutter regs made by those who have never worked in thes “dangerous situations”. Many times workers in our work have been injured using OSHA regulations when there are other ways to provide a safer work environment. This is very aggravating to the worker.

    The worker himself should have some personal responsibility for his safety. We provide full training and all safety equipment for all our jobs. Because we are a small company covering a very large area we may have several jobs going at once with 1 or 2 workers. We can not have a jobsitter at each job to see that every safety regulation is followed to the smallest detail. These employees are adults and should be able with their training to br at least partially responsible for their safety and pay part of the fines if they are found at risk. These situations are not the same as places of work such as Manufacturing buildings or Office buildings where everything is static. We can let the employee go if he is cited and he will go down the road and get a job with another employer leading to a repeat of the situation.

    Regulations will work if they make sense and both employer and employee are held responsible.

  • jody

    Fines? I have been the fly on the wall and listened to owners and top line supervisors say how they will ignore safety in order to make more money. As it is now, owners do not fear the system, they mock it. Companies who have strict safety programs do so for one of two reasons. Someone they know was killed and they suffered the financial and moral implications or the owner cares more about people then money. Talk your crap about how an inspector can make life miserable for those who are trying. I work for a company that understands and if you are following the rules you have nothing to worry about, it’s not rocket science, it’s not impossible, it’s easy, you just have to want it bad enough to exert the effort. The time it takes to do it right, is not significantly longer then to do it wrong. It takes proper planning and preparation. The few dollars more spent doing it right will prevent the thousands of dollars spent on the injuries and insurance rates. If government raises the fines and turns the ratio into tens of thousands of dollars for doing it wrong, it will force them out of business and the companies doing it right will be rewarded the contracts. Everyone wins that deserves it, and the greedy inept thugs either get with the program or fade away and learn the phrase “Would you like fries with that?”.

  • sandy

    What good are the fines when the company has a darn good list of lawyers and gets them out the fines?