There are roughly 340 million workplace accidents every single year.
As an employer, it’s your responsibility to provide a safe and healthy workplace for your employees.
Both federal and state regulations are designed to protect worker’s rights and ensure your business stays compliant.
If your business fails to adhere to Wisconsin OSHA regulations, you’ll put your employees in danger and risk financial penalties. In this post, we want to spell out what every business owner needs to know about workplace safety regulations.
Without further ado, let’s get going.
Workplace safety laws vary slightly from state to state.
Many states comply with OSHA regulations set by the federal government. Other states, like Wyoming and Montana, have their own workplace safety laws.
Wisconsin is one of the many states that operates fully under OSHA regulations. This means that every business in the state needs to adhere to OSHA’s uniform workplace safety compliance laws. These laws and regulations are published by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Compared to the United States as a whole, Wisconsin has a slightly higher rate of nonfatal injuries and illnesses. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Wisconsin had a rate of 3.2 incidences per 100 full-time workers, while the US had a rate of 2.7.
Wisconsin OSHA regulations apply to virtually everyone in your workplace. This includes all of your workers – regardless of their role or status within your business. Many people associate workplace safety culture with lower-level employees or even manual laborers, but they also cover supervisors, business partners, and stockholders.
There are a few types of employees that aren’t covered.
While family members who work for you are usually covered under OSHA safety rules, this doesn’t apply in a farm setting. Independent contractors are typically exempt from OSHA as well. This is because they generally control their own work environment.
Some industries have their own sets of safety rules to address risks that are unique to that industry. However, there are certain rights and responsibilities of employers that apply to all industries. These include:
Violating these rights can result in significant fines – or worse if an accident results in a wrongful death.
OSHA violations are not only dangerous for your staff, but they also come with serious penalties and damage to your business’s reputation. OSHA violations come with civil penalties of up to $15,625. Willful and repeated violations can result in fines of up to $156,259 per violation.
The severity of the violation will affect the total amount of penalties you receive. A serious violation that could potentially result in death or severe injury is likely to result in higher penalties than a violation that is unlikely to cause serious harm.
Intentional violations, repeated violations, or failure to become compliant after receiving a warning or violation can all result in higher fines as well. Because OSHA violations are so costly, businesses should ensure they take workplace safety culture seriously from the beginning.
According to OSHA, the most cited standard in 2021 was fall protection in the construction industry. Many job sites do not provide adequate harnesses and guardrails for construction workers, which leads to this violation.
Other common OSHA violations include respiratory protection for general industry and ladder safety for construction sites.
After receiving an OSHA notice, you’ll need to post it near the violation where employees can see it. The notice must remain posted for three days or until the violation is removed. You’ll have 15 days to either pay the violation or contest it.
In the vast majority of cases, OSHA does not have to provide notice before conducting an inspection.
However, they may decide to provide notice if your team is in imminent danger, if they want to conduct an inspection outside of normal business hours, or if management will not be on-site at the time of the investigation.
OSHA will often send businesss a letter via fax about potential violations, rather than doing an in-person investigation.
The length of your OSHA investigation will vary depending on your industry, the size of your facility, and the nature of the workplace hazards.
The inspection itself could take anywhere from several hours to several weeks. After the inspection, you’ll be mailed the results within six months. After receiving the results, you’ll have 15 days to take the next steps.
OSHA has a whistleblower complaint form available for employees. While these complaints are confidential, they are not anonymous. However, OSHA has whistleblower laws in place to protect you from retaliation.
OSHA does not have an inspection schedule for businesses. Random inspections can happen if the agency suspects that you are in violation of the law or if workplace accidents have happened.
OSHA investigations are often triggered by confidential complaints. They may also be triggered by injuries, illnesses, or deaths in the workplace, or if the agency has other reasons to believe that your workplace is unsafe.
In some instances, OSHA officials will provide a verbal warning during the inspection rather than giving a violation. However, this isn’t always the case. It is possible to contest violations if you believe they were given erroneously, but you’ll need to do so within 15 days of receiving them.
OSHA does not have the power to shut down a business, even if they violate Wisconsin OSHA regulations. However, they can temporarily order work to stop if they believe there is imminent danger present.
OSHA regulations can be overwhelming, so consider hiring legal counsel to help you navigate it all. Whether you’re being proactive about workplace safety compliance or are trying to recover from a previous violation, Mahony Law is here to help. We have years of experience in Wisconsin work injury laws – and we’re happy to point you in the right direction.
Contact us today to set up a free consultation. Fill out a form online or call 262-331-3553.
Abby is the founder of Mahony Law and devotes her time to representing people who have been seriously hurt due to the negligence of others. Abby has handled injury cases of all types, including birth injury, wrongful death, automobile accidents, motorcycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and truck accidents.
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