The Six Types of OSHA Violations

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, commonly known as OSHA, works to enforce workplace safety in the US. Part of their job is to regularly inspect businesses and worksites to safety inspections and respond to employee safety complaints. During these inspections, investigators may detect violations of OSHA codes, ranging from minor to major violations. It is important to understand the six categories of OSHA violations.

The 6 types of OSHA violations

These are the six types of OSHA violations, listed here in order from least serious to most serious.

  • De Minimis Violations: this is a technical term that simply means that the violation of OSHA rules encountered had no direct impact on the health and safety of anyone else. This is the least serious classification of OSHA violations. There are usually no fines or citations associated with de minimis violations. OSHA inspectors usually inform the employers verbally of the violation and note them in the employer’s case file.
  • Other-than-Serious Violations: These violations of OSHA rules are those that do not lead to a serious injury or a fatality. However, they still have the potential to put an employee’s health and safety at risk. For this level of violation, OSHA can levy fines of $7,000, though the penalty is typically reduced. Employers can receive this violation for failing to post mandatory safety documents in employee workspaces.
  • Repeated Violations: If OSHA inspectors issue a violation, they expect that the issue will be resolved quickly and that the employer will cease to commit that violation in the future. If OSHA inspectors return for subsequent inspections and find that the employer has failed to fix the issue, they could raise the fine to $70,000.
  • Failure to Abate Prior Violation: When OSHA issues a violation citation, there will be a date that the agency expects the safety issue to be corrected. If, upon a return inspection, OSHA has not resolved the violation, OSHA can issue a fine of $7,000 per day until the hazard is remedied.
  • Serious Violations: A serious violation can be issued if it is determined that an employer knows about a health or safety hazard and fails to remedy the issue. OSHA inspectors can issue a $7,000 fine for these violations, and the fine can be adjusted depending on the seriousness of the issue as well as the employer’s history.
  • Willful Violations: This is the most serious violations of OSHA regulations. An employer could be issued a willful violation if it is determined that they intentionally violated OSHA regulations or operated with severe disregard for the health and safety of their employees. OSHA fines for these violations can reach $70,000. It is important to note that a willful violation can turn into a criminal offense of an employee is killed due to the employer’s negligence. In those cases, the employer can face a fine of up to $250,000 as well as jail time. If a corporation commits this offense, the fine can reach $500,000.