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Preventing an OSHA violation

The Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration (OSHA) can make a routine stop at any time and decide to conduct an inspection. If an inspection uncovers an OSHA violation, it can come with hefty fines that can cripple a small business.

OSHA's penalty increases went into effect earlier this year, increasing a violation penalty from $7,000 to $12,675. Failure to abate also increased from $7,000 per day to $12,675 per day and a willful or repeated violation rose from $70,000 to $126,749. Fines are not determined based on the size of the business - it's going to be a $12,675 fine whether you have five or 500 employees.

How can New Jersey businesses protect themselves from such penalties?

The State of New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development offers a free on-site consultation program. Employers can discover potential hazards at their work sites, improve the business's occupational safety and health management systems, and arrange safety and health training for employees.

No citations or penalties are issued if you use the program. In fact, there is a possibility to qualify for a one-year exemption from routine OSHA inspections if you participate. The program is primarily targeted for smaller businesses with fewer than 250 employees. If your business employs fewer than 50 people, you receive special priority in scheduling consultations.

This program gives small businesses a chance to understand what is or isn't an OSHA violation before it's too late and it bankrupts the company. Consider taking advantage of the program or contacting another OSHA expert to conduct a consultation of your business. If you are ever found with an OSHA violation, it may be useful to talk to an expert in employment law who can help you navigate the process and negotiate fines.

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