Here’s more evidence your company needs to stay current on safety training: OSHA fines are heading skyward.
Since 2010, the number of companies facing total OSHA fines above $100,000 has tripled.
This month, OSHA issued three penalties that topped one-million dollars and levied nearly a dozen citations carrying six-figure fines.
There’s more: Outgoing GOP house speaker John Boehner’s final peace offering – negotiating a compromised budget deal that would extend the debt limit and boost spending – took labor officials by surprise after finding that the agreement included a provision to hike OSHA fines nearly 50% in 2016.
The House approved the bill Oct. 28 and the Senate was scheduled to consider it Oct. 29. The bill includes a provision to adjust OSHA penalties annually based on the inflation rate.
Repeat and willful violations – which carry a maximum of $70,000 in penalties – contributed to the high dollar value of these fines. Machine guarding, lockout/tagout, trenching and fall hazards were among the common citations.
Here’s a sampling of October’s enforcement activities:
- Regulators hit a Nebraska cleaning company with 30 citations and $963,000 in fines after a railcar exploded, killing two employees and injuring a third. OSHA said the company sent the workers to clean a tanker car filled with dangerous fumes despite warnings that the air quality inside the car showed a high risk of explosion.
- Troubled Midwest furniture giant Ashley Furniture – already facing $1.7 million in OSHA fines from an inspection earlier this year – was hit for lockout/tagout hazards carrying $431,000 in penalties. In February, OSHA leveled 38 violations after inspectors discovered there were more than 1,000-work-related injuries at the plant over a 3 1/2 year period.
- An Ohio chicken processing facility found itself facing $414,000 in fines after two workers were maimed while attempting to clean unguarded machines. Penalties levied against Case Farms now total over $1.4 million.
- A commercial laundry company was hit with $305,300 in fines for repeatedly exposing workers to machine hazards. Three years ago, a 24-year old worker was killed when he was crushed by a conveyor belt.