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Controversy surfaces around OSHA violation fines increases

On behalf of Goldstein Goldstein

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA, increased its penalties in January in an effort to thwart willful negligence affecting workers’ welfare in New Jersey and throughout the nation. However, this increase has led to some legal controversy, as OSHA is perceived as violating workers’ compensation mandates in the OSH Act. Now, state OSHA plans are complaining about new regulations, arguing that employers have the right to challenge penalties up to $126,000 that may have been imposed because of unsafe working conditions.

The controversy in this case centers around the fact that OSHA raised penalties without amending the act that allows the agency to collect penalties in the first place. Now, OSHA violation fines are mandated to keep pace with inflation, providing more motivation for employers to prevent their workers from getting injured on the job. This allows the agency to keep financial pace with inflation throughout the country, but it has some negative effects for employers.

What does this mean for workers who are injured on the job, or who are put at risk because of unsafe working conditions? One benefit of these increased regulatory penalties is the renewed motivation that employers will experience to avoid fines and prevent occupational violations that could lead to medical expenses and victims’ permanent disability. One downside – employers may be focusing more on trying to fight the controversial financial aspects of their OSHA violation instead of truly making moves to protect their workforce.

OSHA violation fines are designed to protect workers at New Jersey businesses from unsafe working conditions. Although employers may try to fight penalties imposed by this agency – and attempt to avoid their legal responsibilities – they are still bound to provide a safe, healthful workplace. Victims who have suffered serious injury because of a negligent employer may have legal recourse through the workers’ compensation system.

Source: EHS Today, “OSHA Penalties Keep Changing, But the OSH Act Remains the Same,” Travis Vance, March 02, 2017

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