Will OSHA increase criminal prosecutions for workplace safety violations?

Posted by admin on July 1, 2015

There is no doubt that OSHA citations can harm enterprises on multiple levels. Fines eat away at profits, reputational damage can result in lost project bids and workplace injuries demoralize and disengage teams, leading to increased turnover and lowered productivity.

However, some experts feel that these consequences are not sufficient. Kyle Morrison of Safety and Health Magazine, the official magazine of the National Safety Council, recently wrote a blog post that explored the prospect of increasing criminal indictments for OSHA regulatory violations.

Morrison explains that OSHA is limited to pursuing criminal prosecution to three distinct conditions: a willful violation that results in a worker fatality, providing a false statement to investigators and giving advance notice of an upcoming inspection.

"Even if an employer is found guilty in criminal court of violating OSHA law, the most severe threat faced would be a misdemeanor, even in the case of negligent behavior that results in a worker's death," Morrison explains. "Misdemeanors bring a maximum 6-month jail sentence."

OSHA administrator David Michaels has also spoken negatively about the restrictions placed on his agency that he feels leave violators getting off the hook too lightly.

As a result of these complaints, new proposed legislation titled Protecting America's Workers Act (S. 1112) is attempting to authorize felony prosecutions against any employer who knowingly violates an OSHA rule in the event of an employee death, increasing the penalty for guilty parties to up to 10 years in prison.

This raises the stakes for ensuring compliance with OSHA even higher. If your organization does not currently have employee training tracking software in place to make certain team members are knowledgeable about the proper protections, now is the time to take action. To learn more about how to improve your OSHA compliance with IndustrySafe, visit our website.

Tags: OSHA Recordkeeping

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