For the first time since the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990, OSHA is raising federal fines for workplace-safety violations.

The cause of the increase is a new congressional budget signed into law by President Obama on November 3, 2015.

Penalty increases of around 80 percent are expected as OSHA issues an interim final rule before August 1, 2016. This would increase maximum fines for willful violations of federal safety regulations from $70,000 to approximately $127,000.

OSHA Violation Statistics and Costs
This legislation makes maintaining workplace safety equipment, processes, and procedures more important than ever. Here is a list of the top ten most frequently cited OSHA standards violated in 2014’s fiscal year from

1. Fall protection, construction (29 CFR 1926.501) [related OSHA Safety and Health Topics page]
2. Hazard communication standard, general industry (29 CFR 1910.1200) [related OSHA Safety and Health Topics page]
3. Scaffolding, general requirements, construction (29 CFR 1926.451) [related OSHA Safety and Health Topics page]
4. Respiratory protection, general industry (29 CFR 1910.134) [related OSHA Safety and Health Topics page]
5. Powered industrial trucks, general industry (29 CFR 1910.178) [related OSHA Safety and Health Topics page]
6. Control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout), general industry (29 CFR 1910.147) [related OSHA Safety and Health Topics page]
7. Ladders, construction (29 CFR 1926.1053) [related OSHA Safety and Health Topics page]
8. Electrical, wiring methods, components and equipment, general industry (29 CFR 1910.305) [related OSHA Safety and Health Topics page]
9. Machinery and Machine Guarding, general requirements (29 CFR 1910.212) [related OSHA Safety and Health Topics page]
10. Electrical systems design, general requirements, general industry (29 CFR 1910.303) [related OSHA Safety and Health Topics page]

OSHA gathered this data by performing 36,163 federal and 47,217 State Plan inspections. The agency reports 4,251 worker fatalities in private industry, though statistics are also kept for education and health services, government, and public administration.

Maintaining OSHA Compliance
Understanding both state and federal OSHA requirements is the first step to compliance. A designated safety officer (typically in Human Resources) can ensure everyone within your organization remains OSHA compliant.

All medical, disaster, and fire safety equipment should be regularly inspected, researched, and maintained, and any incidents that require usage of this equipment needs to be thoroughly investigated and documented.

Staff should be trained on requirements, and job aides, posters, and occasional literature should be posted in common areas and reviewed with employees on a regular basis. Safety drills also increase the effectiveness of company safety practices.

With enough precaution and a well-run organization, OSHA fines shouldn’t become a problem, but always keep employee safety first. Be especially aware of safety when working in construction, utilities, and any contract work, as statistics show these are the most dangerous.

Good luck out there, and continue keeping this country’s infrastructure running.