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Types of OSHA Violation

The governing body OSHA (the Occupational Health and Safety Administration) are responsible for the enforcement of health and safety conditions across the entirely of the United States of America. The body has several standards for various types of working environment, but the one of the most important things that you should be concerned about is OSHA violations.

There are several different types of violation that OSHA can give out to companies, so it is important that you understand exactly what they all mean and make sure you are taking every step you possibly can to avoid them.

Other-Than-Serious Violations

This is defined as a violation that takes place that is not deemed serious enough to cause death or serious physical harm to employees. This basically means that it applies to general negligence around documentation; many OSHA requirements demand that organisations fill in logs that clearly document injuries or illnesses. Many instances have occurred when this hasn’t happened at all, leading to companies being hit with this violation.

This particular violation also applies to failure to conduct the necessary safety and equipment inspections required by OSHA. It is recommended that all firms do perform regular inspections to adhere to health and safety laws and also to protect their employees from undue harm.

As of 2010, this violation can incur penalties of up to $7000 per violation. To calculate the severity of the violation, OSHA, takes into account the business size, previous violations and whether steps have been taken to comply with OSHA’s standards.

Serious Violations

As its name implies, this violation is usually given out when there a situation arises where health and safety in the workplace isn’t rigidly enforced. A serious violation means there is a significant risk that death or serious physical harm can be inflicted on those working in an environment.

In terms of lockout/tagout, these types of violations are often given out when employers fail to provide workers with the necessary equipment, tools, training and other things to enforce and correctly utilize an energy control program. Every year thousands of injuries happen because machines are not correctly locked out, leaving them to be powered on when someone might be working on maintenance or servicing.

Other penalties that can be serious violations including multiple forms of workplace hazards including tripping/falling, electrical, chemical, noise and even the failure to provide the training necessary to adhere to the correct regulations.

As standard, getting a serious violation will also net you with a $7000 fine. Again, this can be reduced or expanded upon depending on several factors such as business size, violation history and how serious an accident might have been.

Wilful Violations

These are violations where the employer knew about safety risks in a working environment but has taken no steps to adhere to OSHA’s regulations and provide a safe working environment for employees.

Wilful violations are extremely, extremely serious. They can result in imprisonment for negligence, and the fines themselves start from $5000. If a death is involved and a wilful violation is found to have been the cause, an employer might expect to be given a prison sentence of up to six months and OSHA has the power to increase their fine up to $500,000.

Repeat Violation

These are given out when an employer or organisation is found to have taken no steps to rectify a violation they have been previously caught out on.

OSHA has the power to give fines out of up to $70000 when someone is found to have repeated a violation.

Failure to Abate Prior Violations

Sometimes OSHA will give these types of violations when they have told someone that they have a set period of time to rectify violations.

If not, OSHA has the power to continue fining the company $7000 past the day of ‘abatement’.

De Minimis Violation

De minimis is a Latin expression which comes from the phrase de minimis non curat praetor (the praetor does not concern himself with trifles).

In order words, a de minimis violation is a less serious violation not directly affiliated with health and safety in the workplace. It deals instead with the more trifling matters in an investigation, such as an organisations failure to report a citation after receiving it.

Additional Violations

In addition to all the many fines above, OSHA also has the power to give out prison sentences and large fines for several other factors including falsifying records, intimidating assessors and noncompliance with posting requirements.

Fines can be up to $5000 per violation and imprisonment can be for up to 3 years.

OSHA Violations and Lockout/Tagout

Practically every single one of the violations outlined above can be applicable to the incorrect implementation of a lockout/tagout and energy control program.

It is the employer's responsibility to ensure that a comprehensive energy control program is constructed, adhered to, regularly inspected and constantly enforced throughout a working environment. It is also the employer's responsibility to assure that all staff have the necessary training to understand and correctly enforce this program at all times.

When not followed, lockout/tagout negligence often leads to death or very serious accidents. By implementing a LOTO procedure, energy sources are correctly isolated and there is no way for employees to be injured, and you're also making sure you adhere to some of OSHA's standards.

For more information on OSHA's various lockout/tagout standards, check out our full guide.

Conclusion

If you are a company based in the United States, we can’t stress enough how important it is you become familiar with all of OSHA’s rules and regulations and make sure you are doing everything in your power to comply to them.

Not doing so makes your workplace a potential death trap waiting to happen, and you’ll have to live with massive mines and a huge weight on your conscience if a worker is seriously injured or killed in your working environment because you haven’t taken the steps necessary to make your workspace as safe as possible.