OSHA Penalties to Increase in Wyoming in February of 2017

CHEYENNE - Maximum penalties, which can be assessed by the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services (DWS) Occupational Safety and Health Administration division (OSHA), will be increasing penalties once the rules are adopted and final. The change is the result of Congressional action which required federal agencies to index civil penalties by the inflation rate, with a one-time catch up provision. DWS, which operates an OSHA State Plan, is required to adopt maximum penalty levels that are at least as effective as federal OSHA penalties.

The federal legislation mandated the first OSHA penalty increase since 1990. The one-time catch-up will increase penalties by 78 percent, and will be adjusted annually to keep pace with inflation. Penalties assessed on or after , will be subject to the new fine structure, pending final approval of the rule by the OSHA Commission.

"The new maximum OSHA penalties represent a sizeable increase for businesses out of compliance with OSHA standards," said DWS Director John Cox. "Contacting the Department's Workers' Compensation Safety and Risk Unit (WCSRU) for a free safety consultation is always a good idea for employers who are uncertain about safety standards. The WCSRU is a no-cost resource created specifically for employers seeking safety expertise and is staffed with advisors who provide safety and health assistance without assessing fines."

The WCSRU is a new DWS program offering free health and safety surveys to help employers recognize and remedy safety hazards in their workplace without fines or penalties. Employers can request a consultation by calling (307) 777-8901.

New Penalty Structure

  1. "Other Than Serious" Violation - A violation that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.
    • New Maximum: $12,471 per violation
    • Current Maximum Penalty: up to $7,000 for each violation.
  2. "Serious" Violation - A violation where there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew of, or should have known of, the hazard.
    • New Maximum: $12,471 per violation
    • Current Maximum Penalty: up to $7,000 for each violation.
  3. "Failure to Abate" Violation - Failure to correct a previously cited violation.
    • New Maximum: $12,471 per day beyond the abatement date for each violation
    • Current Maximum Penalty: up to $7,000 each day beyond the abatement date for each violation.
  4. "Willful" Violation - A violation that the employer knowingly commits or commits with plain indifference to the law. The employer either knows that what he or she is doing constitutes a violation, or is aware that a hazardous condition existed and made no reasonable effort to eliminate it.
    • New Maximum: $124,709 per violation
    • Current Maximum Penalty: up to $70,000 per violation.
  5. "Repeat" Violation - A violation of any standard, regulation, rule, or order where, upon reinspection, a substantially similar violation is found.
    • New Maximum: $124,709 per violation
    • Current Maximum Penalty: up to $70,000 per violation.

Penalty Reductions

DWS OSHA maintains the ability to provide reductions on penalty amounts. OSHA penalty reductions can be taken on a case-by-case basis and are based upon federal regulation or guidelines which take into account a variety of factors, including size, industry, good faith, immediate resolution and prior history along with a severity and probability assessment. Penalties may be recalculated as the employer provides additional information and evidence through the appeals process.

WCSRU serves as resource to Wyoming businesses seeking workplace safety expertise.

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