OSHA can charge up to $70,000 for each repeat violation it finds. While small businesses get a break in the size of these fines, when they’re considered repeat violations, they can still add up.
OSHA has cited A-Treat Bottling Co. of Allentown, PA, with 16 violations, with 14 categorized as repeat.
An inspection conducted in August 2012 was a follow-up from an earlier one. The total fines: $129,745.
The repeat violations include failing to:
- conduct baseline and annual audiograms
- establish noise engineering controls
- provide noise training
- provide machine guarding
- provide machine-specific hazardous energy control procedures and training
- ensure exits were unobstructed
- ensure proper use of flexible cable, and
- correct electrical hazards.
Similar violations were found at inspections in 2008, 2010 and 2011.
In 2011, OSHA proposed fines totaling $111,000 for 24 safety violations at the plant.
A-Treat also received one serious citation for improper material storage in an electrical service room, and one less-than-serious citation for a defective forklift.
For 14 repeat violations, the company could have been fined almost $1 million ($980,000 to be exact).
In this case, the largest single fine A-Treat faced was $19,250 for not obtaining employee audiograms. OSHA does reduce fine amounts for small businesses. But the number of repeat citations found in this case still led to a six-figure total fine.
For some businesses, $130,000 may seem like a drop in the bucket. But A-Treat is a small, regional business (it sells soft drinks) with about 70 employees.
The company has 15 business days to decide whether to contest the violation to the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.