What You Need to Know About the New Work Safety Penalty Changes
In November of last year, Congress passed the Bipartisan Budget Act, which requires OSHA and other federal agencies to make much needed changes to their civil penalties in order to promote work safety. The penalty changes were based on inflation over recent years. In August 2016, those penalty increases will start to take effect.
The penalties are now set to be adjusted each year to match inflation, meaning they are likely to continue rising. Civil penalties associated with OSHA violations and other federal agency citations have not been adjusted in the last 26 years.
How Much are the New OSHA Penalty Amounts?
Previously, the penalty amounts were up to $7,000 for serious or non-serious violations, and up to $70,000 for repeat or intentional offenses. Starting in August, OSHA will be able to issue fines of up to $12,471, and $124,709 for repeat and willful violations.
These increases represent a huge win for workplace safety. Higher penalties for safety violations make employers and managers more careful about keeping their employees safe, even if it is out of fear of fines. The increases should also do a lot to deter any employers who may have intentionally been in violation of OSHA regulations to maximize profit.
Citations vs. Workers’ Comp
These citation amounts are not the same as workers’ comp amounts. The fines are there to act as a deterrent to help prevent accidents from happening. If you were injured on the job, you may be eligible to file a workers’ comp claim, the settlement amount for which will be completely different than the fine amount.
There are a number of benefits to filing a workers’ comp claim. Workers’ comp claims often allow you to skip the sometimes lengthy legal process, and get some or maybe even all of your medical expenses paid sooner. BUT! There are times when your best option may be to forfeit the right to workers’ comp, instead choosing to file a personal injury claim against a negligent employer or third party. You should speak with an experienced workers’ comp or personal injury lawyer before you make a decision.