IF YOU ARE A NEW JERSEY BUSINESS OWNER, BEING OSHA COMPLIANT IS CRITICAL. NON-COMPLIANCE CAN RESULT IN SERIOUS ACCIDENTS AND COSTLY OSHA VIOLATIONS.
If you are a business owner in New Jersey, you should already be aware of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and how it holds you to certain safety standards. Every year, the agency hands out thousands of OSHA violations for safety across the United States. And while OSHA doesn’t have the legal authority to shut down your New Jersey business for infractions, they do have the right to impose stiff penalties and remove your workforce from a hazardous condition, if necessary.
HOW OSHA VIOLATIONS PENALIZE BUSINESSES
OSHA creates and enforces federal safety standards for businesses and is tasked with preventing unnecessary dangers from harming workers. Through OSHA, we have standardized and monitored working conditions in New Jersey and throughout the United States.
If a hazard can potentially put an employee in danger, it can result in an OSHA violation with severe penalties and fines. A single safety hazard can cost your business thousands of dollars in penalties.
Categories of OSHA violations include:
- An other than serious violation is one that can affect the safety and health of the employee but does not cause severe physical harm or death. Penalties are $14,502 per violation.
- A serious violation is one where death or physical injury is highly likely, and the employer knew or should have known about the risk to their employees. Penalties are $14,502 per violation.
- Failure to abate a prior violation occurs when an employer fails to remedy a given violation within OSHA deadlines. The employer faces other possible penalties of $14,502 per day for each day the violation remains unremedied.
- Willful or repeated violations have been repeated within a three-year time frame. The employer can face up to $145,027 per violation. If the violation results in a fatality, these penalties are increased.
These penalties are for each violation and can be significant for any business.
HOW IS AN OSHA INVESTIGATION TRIGGERED?
OSHA can launch an investigation any time there are concerns about workplace safety or imminent danger, and there will typically be no advance notice to the business owner. However, employers have the right to have compliance officers obtain an inspection warrant before entering the worksite.
Many things can trigger an OSHA inspection. If your business has reported a serious workplace injury or fatality in compliance with OSHA regulations, this may trigger a further investigation into the safety of the facility. Another agency may refer OSHA to investigate your business if they believe employees may be working in unsafe conditions. Your employees have the right to contact OSHA at any time, and many OSHA investigations are started based on a current or former employee complaint. It is important to note that it is unlawful to terminate any employee who reports potential OSHA violations.
HOW CAN YOU PROTECT YOUR EMPLOYEES AND YOUR BUSINESS?
Anything found by OSHA during an investigation can be cited. Consequently, your New Jersey business will always want to be on the good side of an OSHA investigation.
You can do this by:
- Completely understanding of OSHA regulations and guidelines. – Employers are responsible for complying with all applicable standards, and ignorance of these standards is never considered a good defense.
- Documenting and implementing a company safety program. – A written safety program is imperative, so all supervisors and employees understand key safety protocols.
- Training your employees. – Providing ongoing training for supervisors and employees can reduce the potential for workplace safety issues, injuries, and illnesses.
- Fixing existing OSHA violations. – Many businesses are guilty of minor violations on a job site, and these can be subject to citations should OSHA show up. If you have possible violations such as materials stored improperly or blocked safety exits, fix these as soon as possible.
- Conducting your own periodic safety inspections. – Identifying unsafe conditions before accidents happen is critical.
- Keeping your records accurate and up-to-date. – OSHA requires that employers keep comprehensive records of any work-related illnesses, injuries, or fatalities. OSHA will look for any gaps in these records.
- Ensuring your employees are properly supervised. – Proper supervision can ensure that jobs are performed safely, reducing risks.
- Ensuring your equipment is properly maintained. – Equipment should undergo ongoing inspection and maintenance to ensure that it is not malfunctioning and presenting safety issues.
As a business owner, you have a legal responsibility to comply with OSHA regulations and keep your workers safe. Consequently, all New Jersey businesses should have a comprehensive safety program in place.
IF YOU HAVE BEEN INJURED IN A WORKPLACE ACCIDENT IN NEW JERSEY
If you are a worker who has been injured in a workplace accident in New Jersey, possibly caused by an OSHA violation, you will want to get professional legal advice. At the Law Offices of Craig A. Altman, we offer experienced and aggressive representation for those who have been injured on the job due to OSHA violations.
Contact us today to speak to an attorney about your case.