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OSHA Penalties Increase

Wilmington Workers' Compensation Lawyers discuss an increase in OSHA penalties. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) raised its penalties for employer safety violations on January 24. This new structure applies to federal OSHA states including Delaware, and it is predicted that states with their own programs will follow suit.

All companies with citations issued after January 24 and up to the end of 2019 will be fined at the increased rates. Serious and other than serious violations are now $13,260 (2018 was $12,675); willful and repeat violations are now $132,598 (2018 was $126,749); and each day of failure to abate is now $13,260 (2018 was $12,675).

Fines, Fatalities, and Inspectors

Delaware employers have paid the highest OSHA violation penalties in the country, averaging $51,736. The next highest was Minnesota, at $26,000. In 2017, there were 10 workplace fatalities in Delaware, under the national average of 3.5 deaths for every 100,000 workers. Out of all the states, Louisiana ranked highest for this. This study also showed that Delaware’s rate for industrial accident fatalities is lower than the U.S. average.

A recent AFL-CEO report claims that Delaware does not have a high number of OSHA inspectors: one inspector is assigned for every 79,262 workers. It was revealed that the state has a total of four federal OSHA inspectors, but no state inspectors. The National Employment Law Project reported that the number of inspectors has decreased due to budget constraints and high positions remaining unfilled. AFL-CEO representatives feel that there needs to be more action and regulations for workplace hazards.

Are OSHA Penalties Effective?

The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) was passed in 1970, with the goal of improving workplace safety for all employees. Although the number of work-related injuries and occupational illnesses has decreased since then, many believe that OSHA is not the main reason. The past 50 years have seen much improvement in the field of safety technology, and other factors like employer incentives and better training have helped. A decline in the number of large manufacturing sites in Delaware has also eliminated many of the hazardous work environments here.

It has been reported that OSHA inspections reduce worker injuries by fewer than five percent, and more regulation and fines can lessen company’s incentives to improve jobsite safety. Although the threat of high fines and inspections can prevent businesses from violations, there are other systems in place that may be more effective.

Built-In Incentives

Workers’ Compensation insurance has a built-in incentive: With fewer injuries and fatalities, insurance premiums are lower. By improving their on-site safety, companies should have fewer claims and will save money. In addition, workers that perform higher-risk jobs generally are paid at higher rates, so when companies eliminate the hazards, they may not have to pay employees at the higher levels.

If an employer is convicted for an OSHA willful violation that causes an employee’s death, that employer could end up in jail; acts of gross negligence can also lead to manslaughter charges. This last fact can also work as a deterrent toward poor safety practices.

Although many feel that OSHA is still important, it has been said that its role should be changed to focus on consulting, educational outreach, and helping the disadvantaged. Redirecting their resources could provide more incentives to small and large companies in the long run.

Wilmington Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Help Injured Workers Recover the Benefits to Which They Are Entitled

If you have been injured on the job, contact a Wilmington Workers’ Compensation lawyer at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC for trusted legal guidance. Contact us online or call us today at 302-888-1221, and we will fight to protect your right to benefits. We offer free consultations for clients in Wilmington, Dover, Newark, Middletown, and throughout Delaware.