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 an exception to the prohibition of the use of a wireless communications device while driving, effective October 11, 2017 and a forthcoming law relating to the use of such a device while driving.
Updated to reflect forthcoming law relating to the use of an electronic wireless communications device while driving.
Updated to include a law codifying the state's Voluntary Protection Program, effective October 1, 2017.
Updated to include amendments to accident reporting requirements, effective October 1, 2017.
Updated to reflect amendments relating to the use of a mobile electronic device while driving, effective October 1, 2017.
Updated to include information on a Department of Labor Administration Review Board decision regarding the Sarbanes-Oxley Act's whistleblower provision.
HR considerations for employers regarding all areas of workplace safety. Advice and guidance on creating and keeping safety in the workplace.