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Criminal Sanctions and OSHA

Did you know that Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) violations could result in criminal charges? That’s right, you could end up in prison for failing to uphold OSHA’s rules and regulations governing project site safety. To make matters worse, state prosecutors are being tapped to issue criminal sanctions against contractors for egregious violations involving fatalities. Can you afford to spend time behind bars while your projects grind to a standstill? To liberate yourself from existing OSHA violations or to prevent future OSHA interference from limiting your ability to complete work, consult an OSHA attorney.

When a State District Attorney Intervenes, Watch Out!

As a contractor, you’re no stranger to OSHA. You may have already been issued monetary penalties for health and safety violations in the past. That’s nothing to be ashamed of, even the most experienced contractors can find themselves being cited for a minor infraction when they least expect it. You can probably handle the occasional monetary penalty, but what happens when a worker dies on your watch? OSHA may refer your violation to the state attorney office, which could result in a criminal charge like manslaughter. If this happens to you, consult an OSHA attorney.

OSHA’s Criteria for Pursuing Criminal Charges

The OSH Act allows OSHA to bring criminal charges against any employer that has been cited for willful violations leading to the death of an employee, provided advance notice of an OSHA inspection, or provided false statements on a required document. The penalties for these violations can be significant, but they’re not as severe as the penalties that can be exacted on business owners by a district attorney. First time offenders could be fined up to $10,000, imprisoned for up to six months, or both. Furthermore, a district attorney can take advantage of a myriad of misdemeanor and felony charges to keep you from working. 

As recently as August of this year, a contractor in Colorado was charged with manslaughter for trench-related fatalities from the previous summer. Prosecutors were able to show evidence of willful, serious, and other-than-serious citations. Willful violations, in particular, are the most problematic for contractors. These violations illustrate that you, as the employer, had a thorough understanding of the risks you permitted on your project site and nonetheless failed to implement safety protocols.

Get Help From Our OSHA Defense Attorneys

If you’re dealing with an active OSHA violation or fear that your project sites are susceptible to future citations, it’s time to consult an OSHA defense attorney for assistance. Our attorneys specialize in OSHA defense and citation prevention. Our experienced attorneys have helped many contractors fight back against costly citations, and our third-party site audits help you stay on top of the latests OSHA rules and regulations.

If you would like to speak with one of our OSHA defense attorneys, please contact us today.

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.