OSHA Criminal Charges
Kegler Brown E-mployment Alert September 10, 2009
It is widely believed that OSHA inspection and citation activity will increase dramatically under the Obama Administration. In fact, budget proposals call for OSHA to add two hundred new full-time employees. There is also speculation that criminal charges for OSHA violations will increase.
At the end of August, two individuals and three companies were indicted in Colorado after five workers died in a fire in 2007. The fire occurred as an employee was doing welding work in a closed environment where others were working with epoxy and industrial solvents.
The federal grand jury returned an indictment charging the companies with five counts of violation of OSHA regulations. The violations can carry fines of up to $500,000 per violation. The indictment also charged two corporate officers with five counts, which could result in imprisonment for six months and a fine of $250,000 per violation. All of this is in addition to the $1,000,000 penalty that OSHA proposed against the companies after the fire occurred for violation of the permit-required confined space standard.