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OSHA Penalties Increase by 78% for Occupational Safety Violations

Though asbestos is still legal in the U.S., it is strictly regulated by the U.S. government under safety laws administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the Clean Air Act (CAA), and the Consumer Product Safety Act are just a few. Now, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the U.S. Department of Labor has taken steps to make it even more difficult for companies to violate safety laws designed to protect workers and the public from hazards such as asbestos. 

The OSHA has increased the maximum fines for violations of safety regulations by a staggering 78%. As part of the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015, the new fines are the first increases the OSHA has made since 1990. The increases went into effect August 1, 2016 and include: 

  • A new maximum fine of $124,709 per violation for “willful” and “repeated” violations, up from $70,000, and a new minimum of $8,908 per violation, up from $5,000.
  • A new maximum of $12,741 per day for “serious” violations, up from $7,000.
  • A new maximum of $12,741 per day for “failure-to-abate” violations, up from $7,000.

If these figures seem small at first glance, take a closer look. Fines are “per violation” or “per day.” This means that companies could be fined thousands to millions of dollars for violations such as failure to warn workers about asbestos, not providing protection from asbestos, inadequate asbestos removal, and allowing untrained workers to remove asbestos. The following headlines show just how much these fines can add up:

Construction companies face nearly $2M fine over asbestos

U.S. Department of Labor's OSHA fines employer more than $1.2 million

for exposing workers to asbestos hazards without protection

OSHA seeks $243,000 fine from asbestos cleanup firm

OSHA fines five companies more than $185K for not warning workers

about asbestos, not providing protection and allowing other hazards

U.S. Labor Department's OSHA fines Danvers, Mass., construction contractor $136,000 for asbestos hazards at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston

If you suspect that a company you work for or have worked for has violated OSHA asbestos safety laws, contact the OSHA immediately. The OSHA can attach the new violation amounts to any citation issued after August 2, 2016, even for violations that occurred prior to this date.

 

Sources

Cancino, Alejandra. "Construction Companies Face Nearly $2M Fine over Asbestos." Chicagotribune.com. Chicago Tribune, 14 Aug. 2015. Web. 09 Oct. 2017.ho 

"Department of Labor Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Catch-Up Adjustments." Federal Register: The Daily Journal of the United States Government. National Archives and Records Administration, 01 July 2016. Web. 09 Oct. 2017.