Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Egregious Policy: An Obsolete Weapon?

Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Egregious Policy: An Obsolete Weapon?

Article excerpt

EGREGIOUS POLICY: AN OBSOLETE WEAPON?

Since 1986, OSHA has used its violation-by-violation approach to cite more than 100 companies for alleged willful violations of safety and health standards. This so-called egregious policy allowed OSHA to propose a separate penalty, as much as $10,000, for each cited violation. In recent years, the resulting penalties sometimes mounted to six and seven figures. The high to date: a proposed $7.3 million assessed against USX Corp.

As a result of the passage of the Budget Reconciliation Act, a sevenfold increase in OSHA's civil penalties applies to all inspections begun on or after March 1, 1991, and to all violations committed on or after Nov. 5, 1990. Thus, OSHA can now propose a fine of up to $70,000 for each willful violation.

But don't expect to see a lot of egregious cases in which a $70,000 penalty is assessed for each violation. It's more probable that an overall increase in penalties will replace the agency's controversial egregious policy as a means of making noncompliance expensive. …

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