Safe Solutions

OSHA penalty revisions

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) field offices enforce workplace regulations in conjunction with policies and procedures set out in OSHA Directive CPL 02-00-148, OSHA's Field Operations Manual (FOM), published in November 2009. According to OSHA, the FOM establishes OSHA compliance safety and health officers' responsibilities for inspecting work sites. More specifically, the FOM includes instructions for determining penalty reductions companies may qualify for to reduce fines the agency imposes after job-site inspections.

OSHA recently revised the FOM's penalty reduction section, and the changes may significantly affect you.

FOM revisions

The maximum penalty OSHA may impose on an employer under its statutory authority for a serious violation is $7,000. The FOM gives OSHA field personnel authority to reduce fines based on an employer's history of violations, company size and good faith. Implementation of the penalty-reduction policy has prompted some organizations to argue it results in fines that are too low and ineffective. The revised FOM and pending legislative efforts (H.R. 2067, Protecting America's Workers Act) are attempts to increase penalty amounts paid by employers.