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Violations Deemed “Willful” Result In Serious Fines

When a company fails to provide a safe working environment for their employees, the consequences can be serious. In many cases, it is a misunderstanding of the law or safety standards which result in accidents or injuries. As previously mentioned on this site, there are many other cases where some employers simply do not make the necessary changes to ensure their workers are safe from hazards in the workplace.

Employees who work in these types of environments are at an increased risk of injury or even death. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration frowns on companies which have been cited in the past yet fail to make the changes necessary to operate using safety standards, processes and equipment as required by law. This is considered a major “no-no” and most companies will find themselves hit with hefty fines.

When a violation is considered “willful” in nature, this means OSHA has decided the employer not only failed to make the appropriate changes but did so in a willful manner, with no regard to worker safety. The problem is, who decides what is willful? What happens when the employer appeals this decision, claiming they were in the process of making the changes required?

Well, until the appeal is reviewed and a determination is handed down, what happens is the company can face fines in the six-digit range. In many cases it might simply be a matter of interpretation, however if the company plans on remaining in business and not paying more money in fines, it stands to reason that their interpretation might have to be adjusted to fall in line with that of OSHA.