New Federal Bill Proposes Stiffer Penalties for Workplace Violations

According to Finance & Commerce, if the newly introduced Protecting America's Workers Act becomes law, OSHA will be able to enforce stronger penalties for company executives, project managers, and safety directors in the event of a willful safety violation that results in injury or death—and they could face up to 20 years in prison.

Under current rules, companies face a maximum penalty of $70,000 for willful violations. If the federal bill passes, the penalty could be $120,000 or 10 years in prison. Repeat offenders could face 20 years.

Critics of the bill said that increasing penalties could undermine efforts to improve safety, and those contractors who know about problems and face fines will keep quiet and drive safety concerns underground.

However, one OSHA area director said the bill would set intent as the difference between criminal charges and standard fees. For example, if a CEO or project manager knew a machine had service issues and allowed it to be used, then he or she could face criminal charges.

The legislation has been introduced before and failed, but it could have a greater chance to succeed because of high-profile workplace fatalities.

Read the full article here.