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‘New’ OSHA Uses Old Policy to Make Example of Employers

OSHA is making aggressive use of “egregious violations” to levy large fines and make an example of employers where it considers hazards to have been very serious, including a $16.6 million fine in Connecticut last week and another case in Wisconsin. But the question is whether the violations will hold up in the face of aggressive litigation by employers.

“Over past years, in a limited number of cases, OSHA has alleged a separate violation and proposed a separate penalty for each instance of non-compliance with OSHA recordkeeping regulations, safety and health standards and with the general duty clause,” reported Jim Stanley, a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA.

“The resulting large aggregate penalties are part of a strategy which OSHA believes improves the efficiency and effectiveness of the agency and conserves its limited resources by making an example of the employers who are cited. In non-egregious cases, OSHA issues one violation for all instances of the same hazard, and as a result the proposed penalties are much smaller than egregious penalties.”

Read more on Jim Stanley’s Workplace Safety blog