Another reason to hold safety training – The same fine multiplied by employee count.

Written by
July 15th, 2010

Fred Hosier from Safetynewsalert.com posted an article that I feel is important for employers in Wisconsin to be aware of – I do also recommend taking a look at his website as he has some very good safety knowledge to offer. 

If a company fails to provide safety training required by federal law to 11 employees, can the employer be fined just once or 11 times?

A federal court says the government can fine the company 11 times.

The decision comes in the case of employer Erik Ho. He hired 11 workers to renovate a building containing asbestos.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) found Ho failed to train them about asbestos removal or provide them with respirators, two violations of federal safety regulations.

OSHA issued 22 citations to Ho. On appeal, the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, an independent appeals board, found that the existing regulations didn’t allow OSHA to issue 22 separate citations. Instead, Ho faced just two fines.

In response, OSHA changed its regulations in late 2008 to allow for per-employee fines for lack of safety training and personal protective equipment.

That regulation was challenged by the National Association of Home Builders and other groups. They argued that OSHA had no authority to specify whether citations could be issued on a per-employee basis.

Now a federal court has ruled that OSHA is allowed to make such changes to federal workplace safety regulations.

What does that mean for employers? The maximum OSHA fine for one serious violation is $70,000. Multiply that fine by 11 employees, and it becomes $770,000.

Cite: National Association of Home Builders v. OSHA, U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit, No. 09-1053, 4/16/10.

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