Employers in Minnesota will soon have to pay higher fines if they violate workplace safety regulations. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration will be increasing fines in 2016. OSHA fines have not changed in 25 years, so the fines are being raised to catch up with inflation. The Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Improvements Act of 2015 will increase fines by 80 percent for 2016 and then raise fines higher each year after that.
At the same time the fine increase was announced, new information about the effectiveness of OSHA fines was released. The Institute for Work and Health conducted a study on OSHA fines and determined that inspections that result in citations with penalties cause a reduction in workplace injuries.
The recent study is just one of several studies that have concluded that OSHA penalties have an impact on workplace safety. Other studies have shown evidence that injury rates go down in the years following an OSHA inspection. The assistant secretary said that the studies have confirmed that OSHA inspections and penalties are good tools for improving workplace safety and health. OSHA now gives more weight to the types of inspections that have been proven to have an impact on workplace safety.
Workplace injuries are sometimes the result of unsafe workplace conditions that need to be corrected. In other cases, workers are injured on the job due to human error or unexpected circumstances that couldn’t be avoided. Whether a workplace injury was the worker’s fault or their employer’s fault, the injured worker can pursue reimbursement for medical expenses and lost wages through a workers’ compensation claim.