Penalties and Consequences of OSHA Violations

  • Serious Violations: Any violation which creates a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and the employer knew or should have known of the hazard. For such violations, a mandatory penalty of up to $7,000 for each occurrence may be imposed. Serious violations may be downgraded by OSHA personnel, based upon employer good faith, lack of previous violations, the size of the business, etc.
  • Other than Serious Violations: Any violation directly related to workplace safety or health, but would unlikely cause serious physical harm or death. OSHA may propose a discretionary penalty of up to $7,000. These violations also may be downgraded by OSHA personnel, based upon employer good faith, lack of previous violations, the size of the business, etc.
  • Willful Violations: Any violation that an employer intentionally and knowingly commits. The employer must either know that he or she is committing a violation, or be aware that a serious hazardous condition exists and makes no reasonable effort to eliminate it. The Act assesses a civil penalty of not less than $5,000 for such violations. Moreover, if the violation results in the death of an employee, a court-imposed criminal fine of up to $250,000 for individuals and/or imprisonment for up to six months; or $500,000 for corporations as a criminal fine may be imposed.
  • Repeated Violations: Repeat violations may result in fines up to $70,000 each. To be considered a “repeat” offense or violation, the citation for the original violation must have been issued in final form.
  • Failure to Correct a Prior Violation: Such failures may bring civil penalties of up to $7,000 if the violation extends beyond the prescribed abatement date.

Inside Penalties and Consequences of OSHA Violations