During an OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) inspection, the inspector may find incidents or procedures that violate their safety standards and regulations.
Each type of violation has its own requirements and punishments. Below, we will outline one of the major classifications of violations an OSHA inspector may give, willful violations. If you are a contractor and have been issued a willful violation, we urge you to contact the Lakeland contractor attorneys at Cotney Construction Law.
Willful violations are the most serious category for violations. A willful violation occurs when an employer intentionally disregards OSHA’s rules and regulations or has an indifference to employee health and safety. These situations are handled very seriously by OSHA inspectors. A willful violation is punishable by a minimum of a $5,000 fine and a maximum of a $70,000 fine per violation. In the event of an employee death, the violation becomes a criminal offense and can be punishable by fines of up to $500,000 and imprisonment of up to six months.
Willful violations are broken down into three different categories:
Intentional Disregard Violations
Intentional disregard violations are determined by a refusal to follow proper procedures. This is demonstrated in three different ways:
The employer was aware of the standards and regulations set by OSHA and also had knowledge of the alleged hazard, but chose not to address it.
- The employer was unaware of the standards and regulations set by OSHA, however, the employer was aware of a similar legal requirement and had knowledge of the hazard, yet choose not to address it.
- The employer had knowledge of the specific steps that need to be taken to address a hazard and chose to substitute their own judgements instead.
Plain Indifference Violations
Plain indifference violations are determined by a lack of concern for employee health and safety. This is demonstrated in the following ways:
- Management had knowledge of OSHA standards and regulations, but did not pass them down to lower level supervisors or employees.
- Management was made aware of an obviously hazardous situation and took little to no preventative measures.
- The employer did not know of any legal requirements for a hazardous situation, but knew through another source that it was dangerous to employees and did little to nothing to resolve the issue.
- If the employer exhibits no legal knowledge of an issue, but is determined to have not placed any importance on the information anyway.
Criminal Willful Violations
Criminal willful violations are a result of a death that is caused by a hazardous situation. These are issued when the employer’s actions, or lack thereof, resulted in the death of an employee. This offense is considered to be a criminal offense and is punishable by fines of up to $250,000 for an individual owner and up to $500,000 for a corporation per violation. Violators may also face penalties of up to six months of imprisonment. In some cases, both punishments may be issued. If you have been issued a criminal willful violation, this matter is very serious and must be met with a swift and tactful strategy from a Lakeland contractor attorney.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.