In Ontario, we have OHSA, Occupational Health and Safety Association, they set out minimum health and safety standards to protect workers against hazards on the job. If those standards aren’t upheld, there are stiff financial penalties to pay.
In America, OSHA, Occupational Safety and Health Administration follows the same guidelines. Unfortunately, OSHA’s fines have not been adjusted for inflation in decades. It is unfortunate that protecting workers from hazards on the job must come with a price, but without it, OSHA has not had the benefit of enforcing regulations the way they need to be enforced. Penalties that are inconsequential composed of penalties imposed by other government agencies, so that 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 which basically allows them to catch up to the inflation rates from the last adjustment in 1990. Essentially, the rates will increase up to 80%, so on a less serious violation from a maximum of $7000 per person exposed to $12,500.
This still all has to be approved and the final rule-making is to be approved July 2016 with the increase if approved, in place by August 31st, 2016. Whether this will rein in employers with or not, at least OSHA will have the ability to be more of a deterrent for poor safety performance with a heftier price tag.
Keep an eye on industry news for further updates.