The consequences of non-compliance

In the U.S., companies that violate Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations can end up paying a variety of prices, some that are definite and simple to calculate, and others that are less quantifiable, but real nevertheless. 

Within the former category, OSHA defines six types of violations:  

  • De Minimis – The least serious kind of violation, this is a technical one that has no direct impact on health or safety. OSHA does not issue citations or fines for such infractions.  
  • Other-than-Serious – A violation for something that is related to health or safety but would not result in serious injury or death. An employer not posting required safety documentation in a work area is an example. Fines of up to $12,934 per violation are possible. 
  • Serious – Issued when an employer that has knowledge of an existing hazard that could impact employees’ health or safety yet does nothing to

MSHA: What’s the Real Impact of Fines on Mine Safety?

Late in 2014, MSHA made headlines when an investigation revealed that nearly $70 million in health and safety penalties had yet to be paid by mining company owners. The joint investigation by news agency NPR and Mine Safety and Health News found that most of these unpaid penalties were between two and 10 years overdue.

In response to the pressure that followed this report, a federal investigation was launched that will focus on the penalty assessment and collection process at MSHA. More recently, a similar report by SNL Energy showed that U.S. coal producers owed more than $62 million in unpaid health and safety violations fines. Again, most of these citations were at least two years old. So why has MSHA not collected this money?

Typically, the process goes like this: MSHA issues a fine. Once the company has been notified, mine operators have 30 days to pay the fine. … Read more...

Top Five Environmental Stats – Citations & Fines (Infographic)

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was created for the purpose of protecting human health and the environment by writing and enforcing regulations based on laws passed by congress. This infographic depicts interesting facts and figures about citations and fines enforced by the EPA.  Please click on the image below to see the full infographic.


Whistleblower complaints could rise under OSHA proposal

Filing a whistleblower complaint is about to become a whole lot easier. In line with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) increase focus on whistleblower protection, the agency has proposed a rule to allow for new ways to file a whistleblower complaint, including a web-based form.

Under Labour Code 6310, employers can’t retaliate against workers when they file an OSHA complaint. Examples of retaliation include firing, demoting, or transferring the complainant. Currently, the only way to file a whistleblower complaint is to contact the nearest office of the Division of Labour Standards Enforcement.

Under the new proposal, a whistleblower complaint would be a much easier affair, with only a few clicks and keystrokes separating an alleged retaliatory action and the submission of a complaint. If it goes through, the rule would have the potential to dramatically increase the amount of whistleblower complaints filed.

But it is not a done …

Workplace injuries and the bottom line: indirect incident costs are staggering

This week the Intelex Blog introduces its newest contributor, Robert Smith. Head of Injury Management Solutions, Robert has tons of experience in Human Resource and Disability management, including a long stint with WSIB. Robert will blog on a biweekly basis on issues related to compensation, claims management, case management, and much more. This week Robert tackles the real costs of workplace injuries.

I have been directly involved in workers’ compensation issues for well over 20 years and, like many of you, I have heard the stories of the costs of a workplace injury and how important it is to implement health and safety programs and to manage claims. Yet time after time I have conversations with employers who still do not grasp the big picture. 

So what is the big picture? Most companies are aware of how their workers’ compensation premiums are calculated and that poor performance results in … Read more...

OSHA bumps fall protection enforcement period to March 2013

Attention home builders! If you were expecting to face more stringent fall protection measures next week, you’ve got a bit of a reprieve. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) announced yesterday it is extending its temporary enforcement measures on fall protection through to March 15, 2013.

Previously, OSHA had planned to enforce its new Compliance Guidance for Residential Construction next week. However, potentially influenced by call from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), OSHA decided to push the temporary enforcement measures by three months. These measures can be thought of as a means by which OSHA eases the home-building industry into compliance with the new residential construction rules, which calls for increased fall protection for workers engaged in operations six feet or more above lower levels.

The temporary enforcement measures offer employers:

  • Priority free on-site compliance assistance.
  • Penalty reductions.
  • Extended abatement dates.
  • Measures to ensure consistency.
  • Increased

US Labor Department’s OSHA exposes safety and health hazards at construction sites through no-notice incident prevention campaign

This release has been reposted from

PHILADELPHIA – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has concluded its 2012 “Construction Incident Prevention Initiative,” during which it issued 243 citations and assessed a total of $658,862 in proposed fines to companies on construction sites throughout the agency’s Philadelphia Region.

The four-month campaign included 545 no-notice inspections focused on falls, trenches and silica exposure. Fifty-nine percent of the inspections revealed violations, some of the most common of which are failing to use fall protection when working on roofs, ensure that scaffolds are constructed safely and protect trenches from collapse.

“This alarmingly high number of violations underscores the need for employers in the construction industry to make a stronger commitment to workplace safety and health,” said MaryAnn Garrahan, OSHA’s regional administrator in Philadelphia. “Employers are responsible for ensuring safe and healthful workplaces, and will be held legally accountable … Read more...

Western Psych investigation, another OSHA imposter, whistleblower ADR pilot program and more on EHS This Week

On this week’s edition of EHS This Week we’ve got the week’s top stories in environment, health and safety news:

  • OSHA’s conclusions from its investigation into the tragic rampage at Western Psych earlier this year.
  • Another fraudulent OSHA employee tries to fine a business. (No, it’s not the one from last week.)
  • A new alternative dispute resolution pilot program launched by OSHA, and more.

Remember to write us with your suggestions, questions and comments at Also, if you are an industry expert and ever want to take part in the program, we’d love to have you. 

Until next week, enjoy the program! 

[audio: old/mp3/EHS This Week Oct 5.mp3]…

Epic Fail by OSHA imposter investigated by Department of Labour

So, an OSHA representative holds classes for mostly unemployed fishermen in southern Louisiana, providing them with essential training they need to get jobs cleaning up the Gulf of Mexico in the aftermath of the 2010 oil spill. Sounds reasonable, right? Well, it certainly would be, if the OSHA trainer was actually an OSHA employee and if the whole thing wasn’t an elaborate ruse designed to exploit disadvantaged communities.

The U.S. Department of Labour and the EPA are investigating the eyebrow-raising case of a Mississippi woman who is accused of using false credentials to convince over 1,000 fisherman to take an “OSHA” training course to get work cleaning the spill. Connie M. Knight allegedly identified herself as a “Master Level V Inspector and Instructor” and the top-ranking female trainer from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration when she attempted to get fishermen across the area to pay $100 to $300 to … Read more...