Initially, a citation from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) can seem like a fairly minor matter. However, employers should take OSHA violations very seriously. Corporations that do not fix a violation or that allow consecutive incidents may receive a repeat violation for OSHA safety regulations.
The fines for a repeat violation of an OSHA safety regulation can range between $5,000 and $70,000. The fine is per violation; a citation may contain several violations. OSHA considers a hazard to be a repeat violation if the employer was cited for the same or a similar violation within the past five years.
A violation can be used as the basis for a repeat violation even if it occurred at another facility or location run by the employer. Manufacturers and retailers may be especially likely to encounter repeat violations due to a violation at another facility. Retailer Wal-Mart challenged OSHA's ability to issue repeat citations in these circumstances, but a federal appellate court upheld OSHA's authority to do so in 2005.
The fine alone can be challenging for a business to pay, but other consequences of a repeat violation could be so severe that businesses close. Repeat violations - especially serious or willful violations - can affect a business's ability to obtain government contracts. Further, repeat willful violations can, in some cases, lead to jail or prison sentences.
For these reasons, it's advisable to seek an attorney's advice as soon as possible after an accident or an OSHA inspection. An experienced attorney can help protect you from a future incident.
- Our law firm represents clients in Texas before, during and after OSHA citations and violations. For more information, visit our page on OSHA violations.