How much can one OSHA citation cost? It depends when you correct it

OSHA has a specific penalty structure in place for issuing citations. For a serious violation, the agency can dish out at most a $7,000 fine. So how’d this company end up paying $90,000 for one serious violation?

The answer: a failure-to-abate fine. Here’s what happened.

In late 2009, OHSA inspectors visited Baby’s Dream Furniture, a wood household furniture manufacturer in Buena Vista, GA. During that visit, they cited the company for failing to train and evaluate workers operating forklifts in the company’s warehouse.

Flash forward six months, and OSHA was back on the company’s doorstep. Inspectors found that Baby’s Dream hadn’t corrected the forklift training and evaluation programs. That meant the company had failed to correct hazards OSHA had already cited it for. And the penalties for that are much higher.

What began as a $2,500 fine became a $90,000 fine.

Under the failure-to-abate fine rules, OSHA can tack on an additional $7,000 a day to the original amount of the fine for each day the company hasn’t addressed or fixed the hazard.

The lesson is clear: If OSHA spots a problem, correct it right away. Not only will it eliminate a potentially dangerous situation at your facility, but it could prevent you from paying an amount 36 times the original fine.

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  1. Why the heck didn’t the company correct the problem? It seems like a no-brainer.

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