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OSHA Repeat Violations Rule 2018: What Employers Need to Know

new rule on repeat osha violations can cost employers money

A recent court decision this past February confirmed OSHA’s abilities and rights to review employers’ past citations of five years and beyond, counting them as part of a repeat violation. OSHA can go back five years to review repeat citations and take action on them.

Just a few years ago, OSHA did not go back further than three years to include past citations for a repeat violation. The period of time that OSHA can look back into an employer’s records was extended to five years in 2015. The recent court decision reaffirms this time period and serves to remind employers that there are no laws for how OSHA can handle repeat violations.

How Are OSHA Violations Organized?

The different OSHA violations include willful, repeat, serious, other-than-serious, posting requirements, and failure to abate. Right now, the maximum penalty for a serious or other-than-serious violation is $12,934. For repeat violations, it is a whopping $129,336. Repeat violations might include multiple accounts of untrained workers or consistent unsafe working conditions and accidents among workers.

What Does the Court Decision Mean for Employers and Workers?

While the company involved with this particular court hearing and citation) questioned OSHA’s right to look past five years into their records, the court came to the conclusion that neither the Occupational Safety and Health Act or OSHA’s regulations included in the Act mentioned a time period that limited how far OSHA could look back for repeat violations.

Basically, even if a citation was issued five years ago, OSHA can use it against you in a repeat violation if your workplace is found to have multiples of these citations. Repeat violations are very expensive, and this five-year period means that employers may be more at risk for repeat violations. They must be extra careful moving forward not to be written up for any sort of citations.

Not only can working to avoid citations help employers avoid costly fines and repeat violations in the future, but it also raises the bar for the level of safety in a workplace.

How Can Employers Avoid Repeat OSHA Violations?

If you want to increase your chances of avoiding fines and repeat violations in the future, you need to make safety your workplace’s number one priority. If you and your workplace follow safety practices, you don’t need to fear this decision because you won’t be attracting OSHA in the first place.

Attorneys David Klass and Travis Vance, from the labor and employment law firm Fisher Phillips, advise employers to put safety practices into place to create a safety-first atmosphere in the workplace.

Employers need to look closer at their safety practices rather than just pay the fee if OSHA cites them for something unsafe. Employers should also now consider fighting citations if they feel they were wrongly accused so that the citation doesn’t stay on record and potentially build up, leading to repeat citations down the road.

In the past, it may not have been worth fighting a $12,500 citation, but now, being hit with a $120,000+ violation down the road for a repeat violation is definitely something to be concerned about. Employers should pay close attention to a citation that involves an everyday activity because a repeat is more likely in that case.

Additionally, employers should keep a detailed record of any previous OSHA inspections and citations so they can see what citations they’ve gotten in the past and avoid repeat citations in the future.

Keep Your Workplace Safe and Avoid Violations with

While the recent court decision didn’t make a new law, it serves to remind employers that it is more important than ever to make safety a number one priority in their workplace.

If you’re wondering what you can do right now to improve the safety of your workplace and appeal to OSHA, the answer is operator training.

Most equipment accidents are caused by untrained workers, so it is crucial for employers to ensure all of their workers have the training and certifications they need to work the equipment and meet OSHA requirements.

With, you won’t find an easier, more affordable or more convenient training program for aerial lift and scissor lift operators. If you have any workers who operate or work near aerial work platforms, you need the training from ALC. Our online courses teach how to operate the equipment and perform inspections, how to recognize and avoid hazards, how to prevent accidents, and more. In only about one hour and from our 100% online platform, your operators can be trained, certified, and prepared to be highly competent operators. This will help you avoid OSHA citations.

Learn more about our aerial lift training courses here, or contact us with any questions you may have!



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