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What are OSHA Penalty Scales?


What are OSHA Penalty Scales?

What are OSHA Penalty Scales?

The laws governing OSHA were designed to maintain a safe working environment for the industrial sector. As such, OSHA has the power to impose certain punishments on employers who are found to be flouting safety rules in their factories or workplaces.

Types of Violations

Here are the general workplace violations that OSHA is charged with correcting, along with the penalties imposed for their violation:

De Minimis

This refers to a technical violation which does not directly impact the health and safety of the workers. As far as violations go, it is the least serious one, and OSHA does not impose a fine or hand out citations for it. The inspector will verbally inform you about the violation, and the details will be added to your workplace’s inspection file.

Other Than Serious

This includes violations which might not result in death or serious injury, but are still related to worker safety and are more serious than a De Minimis violation. In such cases, the Area Director has to make the call whether to impose a fine or not. He will keep in mind many factors while making the decision, such as the severity of the violation, the size of the business and how willing the owner is to cooperate throughout the entire procedure.

Penalty: $12,471 for a violation, or as decided by the Area Director


There are serious safety violations which require urgent attention because their presence puts the lives of the workers at risk. The owner may already be aware of the violation without doing anything about it, and in such cases OSHA will impose a fine based on the employer’s previous history and other factors related to the factory’s upkeep.

Penalty: $12,471 for every violation, or as decided by the Area Director


This is the most serious kind of violation that can occur, where the owner is aware or should have known of the violation which endangers the health and safety of the workers but chooses not to do anything about it. In case of such a violation occurring, heavy fines are imposed on the employer, and if an employee dies, anyone with knowledge of the violation and the authority to have stopped or fixed the problem may also go to jail.

Penalty: $124,709 for every violation


This occurs when the owner is cited repeatedly for the same or substantially similar violation upon subsequent inspections. However, in case the owner is contesting the citation in an ongoing case, the violation cannot be considered repeating until the case is resolved.

Penalty: $124,709 for every violation

Failure to Abate

When an owner receives a citation for a violation he gets a window of time in which the problem is to be resolved. In case this is not done within the specified period, an additional fine is added to the one for the original violation for every additional day.

Penalty: $12,471 every day beyond the abatement date

Avoiding Fines

So how can you make sure that your workplace is kept safe for the workers? The first step is to study OSHA’s training manual to understand their rules and regulations. OSHA provides training courses and seminars for each industry’s safety. Gather all the knowledge you can about ways OSHA’s rules apply to your particular industry, and in general make sure that:

  • Proper railings are installed in the workplace to keep workers away from dangerous spaces.
  • Protective gear such as helmets, gloves and boots are provided to workers who have to undertake dangerous tasks.
  • Share your knowledge with the workers so that they too are made aware of the rules and are encouraged to follow them.
  • Conduct mock drills to train workers on how to behave during an emergency, so they do not panic in case something actually goes wrong.
  • Make sure all the equipment in the workplace is up to date and working properly. Report any equipment which does not work properly and request to have it replaced at the earliest date possible.
  • Encourage the workers to take their safety into their own hands and report any suspicious activity at the workplace that has the potential to become a workplace hazard.
  • When inspectors from OSHA arrive to conduct routine checks, ensure that all safety precautions are in place and up to standard.
  • If you do get a fine, make your case calmly and reasonably, and pay up the fine as quickly as possible to avoid making matters worse.
  • In case of a violation, an abatement period is offered for the employer to correct the mistake. Make sure you make the correction within that time period, and have the area director take a look to confirm that you have taken care of the problem.

Learn More with NTT Training!

To learn more about the rights of workers under the OSHA guidelines as well as their rules and regulations NTT offers a 10-hour OSHA safety course and a 30-hour OSHA safety course. Decide which is best suited for you and your company’s needs. Contact NTT for more information!

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