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 final rules implementing the Seattle Hotel Employees Health and Safety Initiative.
As mandated by the Seattle Office of Labor Standards, covered employers may use this model notice to fulfill the ordinance's notice requirements.
Updated to reflect forthcoming amendments to discrimination protections.
West Virginia employers seeking to prevent workplace violence, provide notice that weapons will not be permitted inside the workplace and show their compliance with the West Virginia law that gives employees the right to keep a lawfully possessed firearm inside a locked personal vehicle in a company parking lot should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.
Updated to reflect retaliation protections in the Pregnancy Accommodations Act, effective May 17, 2018.
Updated to reflect Rhode Island's prohibition of the use of a hand-held wireless communication device while driving, effective June 1, 2018.
Updated to reflect the prohibition of the use of a hand-held wireless device. effective June 1, 2018.
Updated to reflect forthcoming amendments to law regarding reciprocity of employee coverage.
HR considerations for employers regarding all areas of workplace safety. Advice and guidance on creating and keeping safety in the workplace.