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There were several notable changes to OSHA-by-the-numbers in fiscal 2017 and onward into 2018.

The first was the two-percent increase in civil penalty amounts for violations of workplace safety and health standards on January 2, 2018, in accordance with the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015.

New penalties for willful and repeat violations will now be $129,336 per violation; serious, other-than-serious, and posting requirements will be $12,934 per violation; and failure to correct violations will be $12,934 for each day the condition continues.

The second change of note was a new violation cracking OSHA’s top-10 list of most frequently cited violations for 2017, joining the ranks of a rarely altered field.

Fall Protection – Training Requirements (1926.503) took the ninth spot, and many of the violations were specifically related to training requirements and ensuring that a training program for each employee who may be exposed to fall hazards is established, primarily in roofing, framing and residential modeling industries.

The complete list of top-10 most frequently cited violations for 2017 was as follows:

  1. Fall protection, construction (29 CFR 1926.501)
  2. Hazard communication standard, general industry (29 CFR 1910.1200)
  3. Scaffolding, general requirements, construction (29 CFR 1926.451)
  4. Respiratory protection, general industry (29 CFR 1910.134)
  5. Control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout), general industry (29 CFR 1910.147)
  6. Ladders, construction (29 CFR 1926.1053)
  7. Powered industrial trucks, general industry (29 CFR 1910.178)
  8. Machinery and Machine Guarding, general requirements (29 CFR 1910.212)
  9. Fall Protection–Training Requirements (29 CFR 1926.503)
  10. Electrical, wiring methods, components and equipment, general industry (29 CFR 1910.305)

Further, monetary penalties for such cited violations stemmed from a single incident or related incidents in which one or more companies were alleged to have failed to adhere to safe work practices, putting workers at risk of injury or even fatality.

Below are the top-five largest fines from fiscal 2017 as gathered from OSHA and issued between Oct. 1, 2016, and Sept. 30, 2017.

  1. $2.6 million for a worker fatality for an auto parts supplier and staffing agencies
  2. $1.5 million for two worker fatalities for a drain-cleaning company
  3. $1.5 million for a planned inspection for a construction company
  4. $714,142 for a worker fatality for a plumbing company
  5. $610,034 for a worker injury for a steel freight component manufacturer

While most things remain the same year over year, just a few changes – a newcomer to the top-10 citations list and increased penalties – should serve to remind employers to (re-)focus their efforts on maintaining a healthy, productive workplace for their employees for fiscal 2018 – and beyond.