OSHA to increase penalty fines

I found this article and thought I you should know.

OSHA penalties set to skyrocket: Are you in compliance?

By Erik K. Eisenmann

Erik Eisenmann is a shareholder in the Milwaukee office of Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek S.C. where he is a member of the Labor & Employment team and is co-leader of the Occupational Safety and Health Team. Erik represents employers in all aspects of labor and employment law, from counseling to litigation.

For 25 years, the maximum penalty amounts for violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act have remained frozen. A thaw is about to set in — and quick.

The budget act President Barack Obama signed on Nov. 2 contained a provision titled the “Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015.”

This provision does two things.

First, it directs the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to make a “catch-up” adjustment, and bring the agency’s penalties in line with inflation since 1990, which is the last time they were increased. Second, it amends the law to allow OSHA to increase the penalty amounts ever year in accordance with the Consumer Price Index.

The new penalties

Currently, the maximum penalty that OSHA can impose for “other-than-serious” and “serious” violations is $7,000, and the maximum penalty for “willful” or “repeat” violations is $70,000. This new law directs OSHA to increase both of those penalty amounts to correspond with the rate of inflation as it was recorded between 1990 and 2015. The relevant CPI data were released on Nov. 17, and the maximum increase has accordingly been set at 78.16 percent.

This means that OSHA has the authority to increase the maximum penalties to $12,471 for other-than-serious and serious violations and to $124,709 for willful or repeat violations. The change is scheduled to happen no later than Aug. 1, 2016, but we expect OSHA to act sooner than that using an interim final rulemaking.

Advice to employers

Although this change does not alter an employer’s obligations to comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Act, it does substantially raise the stakes for those who fail to comply. Even employers with spotless safety records could now face fines in the six figures for a first OSHA offense.

The changed circumstances make it even more essential for employers to take preventative steps such as providing safety training and conducting self-audits. It is also now more important to ever to seek out experienced counsel when OSHA comes knocking.

The lawyers on Whyte Hirschboeck and Dudek’s Occupational Safety and Health Team are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and can work with you through every step of OSHA compliance, investigation and litigation processes.

For more information, contact Erik Eisenmann at 414-978-5731 or eeisenmann@whdlaw.com, David Hertel at 414-978-5303 or dhertel@whdlaw.com, or another member of WHD’s Occupational Safety & Health Team.


Norseman Drill Bits

Norseman Drill company is made in Minnesota, another great company that is doing their best to keep jobs in America.  They have a huge line of product, but all we really carry are the 175-AG style bit.  These bits are their top of the line “super premium” bit.  The reason we carry this one is that it has 3 flats on the shaft.  Most of us use drills that have quick chucks, and the flats are great for hand drills.  The 135 degree split point also makes it a top quality bit.  We have used these to drill stainless with no problem.

Securing Vehicle Loads

rack-strap-rs-1-silverAnyone who hauls equipment on your vehicle knows how important it is to keep it secure. We have a few different products that make it easy securing vehicle loads. We don’t recommend using bungee cords. Being in Milwaukee Wisconsin, we have a lot of cold weather, and actually I know a person whose bungee cord snapped and he got hooked in the cheek just like a fish. So, the two products we recommend are the buckle tie down straps, and the Rack-Strap. The Buckle Tie down straps are available in different sizes and are significantly less money. They are imported, so they are cheap but effective. The best way for securing equipment or products to a truck or van rack is clearly the Rack-Strap. This product is made in Oregon, it can be bolted or welded to your rack, and has different models for different types of racks. We have two pair of rack-straps mounted on our vehicles. The other reason that the rack straps are great is because they are always there.

Roof Hooks

There are three different roof hooks that we carry. Each one has some benefits, and some drawbacks. All three are made of steel.

The basic is made by Werner Ladder, it is the 15-1 Steel Folding Roof Hook and is permanently installed on a ladder. The Werner 15-1 is spring loaded and pivots at 90 degrees, if you have a dedicated ladder to use this product might be great for you. But, it has points that tend to bite into the shingles, which often times is not desirable.

The second product is made by Tranzporter Roof Zone.  It is made in China and is Zinc-plated.  The Roof Zone 65005 is designed to attach to a ladder, but the manufacturer suggests that two are used.

The third and best product is made by Acro Roofing Products.  Manufactured in the USA, Wisconsin to be specific, this product is the best choice.  The Acro 11082 is designed to attach to a ladder and only one is needed.