Overview: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulates almost every employer, which means that virtually every employer must comply with some OSHA regulations in order to achieve acceptable levels of workplace health and safety. Safety in the workplace can seem like a challenging goal, but it is required by law.
One of the most important concepts employers must understand in the world of workplace safety is the General Duty Clause of the OSH Act. While there are many regulations governing workplace safety, there is not a specific rule covering every possible workplace safety situation. Instead, OSHA enforces the General Duty Clause, which requires an employer to provide a workplace free from recognized safety and health hazards. If an employer knows of an unsafe activity, behavior or situation, then it is obligated to remedy it.
Trends: The civil monetary penalties for failing to comply with OSHA regulations were increased in 2016 for the first time since 1990. To "catch up" with inflation, the maximum penalties went up by 78 percent. For example, the top penalty for willful or repeated violations jumped from $70,000 to $124,709. The new penalty amounts apply to penalties assessed after August 1, 2016, whose associated violations occurred after November 2, 2015.
Author: Melissa Gonzalez Boyce, JD, Legal Editor
Updated to incorporate withdrawal of a DOL administrator interpretation on joint employment.
Updated to reflect notice requirements under the Pregnant Workers' Fairness Act, effective June 2, 2017.
Updated to reflect a forthcoming amendment relating to the use of a wireless communications device while driving.
Updated to reflect the forthcoming West Virginia Safer Workplace Act.
Updated to reflect forthcoming amendments to accident reporting requirements.
Updated to reflect amendments to the workers' compensation law, effective June 16, 2017.
Updated to include the retaliation provisions of the Universal Paid Leave Amendment Act of 2016, effective April 7, 2017.
HR considerations for employers regarding all areas of workplace safety. Advice and guidance on creating and keeping safety in the workplace.