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 reflect forthcoming amendments covering penalties and credits, medical reimbursement disputes, reporting requirements and selection of medical providers.
Updated policy and guidance to reflect the Defend Trade Secrets Act, effective May 11, 2016. See Defend Trade Secrets Act.
Updated to reflect forthcoming amendments to regulations concerning an employer's ability to discourage drug use and employee eligibility for benefits based on marijuana usage.
Updated to reflect a forthcoming law increasing OSH Act civil penalties.
Updated to incorporate the statewide ban on handheld phone use by commercial motor vehicle drivers, effective July 1, 2016.
Updated to reflect a new regulation that clarifies the deadline for requesting a hearing to contest workers' compensation benefits, effective July 1, 2016.
Updated policy and guidance to reflect amendments to distracted driving laws addressing handheld use of mobile devices by drivers of CMVs, effective July 1, 2016.
Updated guidance to reflect developments on civil liability of property owners and managers for claims that may arise from failing to prohibit firearms, effective July 1, 2016.
HR considerations for employers regarding all areas of workplace safety. Advice and guidance on creating and keeping safety in the workplace.