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 a forthcoming final rule revising the general industry Walking-Working Surfaces standard.
Updated to reflect retaliation protections under the forthcoming state paid sick leave law.
Updated to include the state's incorporation by reference of federal OSHA's electronic reporting final rule, with anti-retaliation provisions effective December 1, 2016.
Updated to reflect examples of retaliatory discipline included in OSHA guidance interpreting the anti-retaliation provisions of the electronic reporting final rule.
Updated to reflect the state's incorporation by reference of federal OSHA's electronic reporting final rule.
Updated to include OSHA's final rule establishing procedures for handling Affordable Care Act retaliation complaints.
HR considerations for employers regarding all areas of workplace safety. Advice and guidance on creating and keeping safety in the workplace.