OSHA fines reduce workplace injuries

Workers in Pennsylvania may be interested to learn that according to a new study, lower rates of workplace injury and less severe injuries are correlated with citations and penalties for workplaces that are in violation of Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards. Researchers found that in contrast, the threat of an inspection produced mixed results.

For the first time in 25 years, OSHA fines are set to increase. This is happening because of the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Improvements Act of 2015. The initial increase will reflect inflation since 1990, and for OSHA, this has been estimated to mean an increase of almost 80 percent for 2016. The fine will then increase annually on Jan. 15 of each subsequent year.

The newest study confirms multiple previous ones that have also shown the effectiveness of fines. OSHA has been working to change how it conducts its inspections to use the methods that research has shown to be the most effective.

Despite the efforts of OSHA, workplace accidents still happen. A workplace injury may be minor, or it may be serious enough that an individual can no longer work. In addition to medical expenses, those who have been injured may also no longer be able to support their dependents. Regardless of who was at fault in the accident, injured victims may be eligible for workers' compensation benefits. Workers' compensation paperwork may be complex, and if a claim is denied initially, an attorney might be helpful with the appeal. In some cases, a prospective claimant may also fear retaliation from the employer. This retaliation may take the form of denial of promotion, harassment or termination. However, this is illegal, and those who feelsthat they are facing discrimination as a result of seeking workers' compensation may also wish to consult an attorney.

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