Revised March 2020
In Ontario, we have the Occupational Health and Safety Association (OHSA) that sets out the minimum health and safety standards required to protect employees against workplace hazards. If those standards are not upheld, there are stiff financial penalties to pay.
In America, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) follows the same guidelines. OSHA’s fines however, have not been adjusted for inflation in decades. Unfortunately, protecting workers from hazards on the job must come at a price, and without it, OSHA has not had the benefit of enforcing regulations the way they need to be. Penalties that are inconsequentially comprised of fines imposed by other government agencies, OSHA enforcement and ultimately employee safety has taken a backseat.
In late 2015, President Obama signed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 which included amendments for the increase of OSHA penalties, allowing them to catch up on inflation rates since the last adjustment in 1990. The rates will increase up to 80%, so a minor violation with a penalty of $7,000 per person will now increase to $12,600.
The final ruling is to be approved July 2016 with the penalty increase effective August 31st, 2016, giving OSHA the ability to be more effective at rectifying occurrences of poor safety performance with the heftier price tag.
Keep an eye on industry news for further updates.