Under the United States Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) regulations, there is potential for applying multiplied penalties. These penalties may be applied for “egregious” violations. Usually, an employer is penalized for failure to install safety guards on five identical machines as for one violation, not five. However, failure to install safety features on several or many pieces of equipment is considered an egregious (reprehensible or outrageously bad) violation. Under OSHA policy, the agency may treat each violation as a separate violation, and apply five penalties (one for each machine) by multiplying one penalty by five incidents. However, penalties may be applied on the per-machine basis, not on the per-employee basis if several employees have been using a machine. In order for the violation to be considered egregious and cause multiplied penalties, it has to be willful and adhere to at least one of the following conditions: (a) the employees have a long record of previous violations; (b) failure to maintain safety requirements resulted in a large number of illnesses or injuries; (c) violation resulted in fatalities, catastrophe or high rate of serious illnesses or injuries; (d) disregard of safety was intentional; (e) employer manifested outright bad faith in performing of safety-related responsibilities; (f) current health and safety programs are significantly undermined by a number of violations.
Potentially, multiplied penalties may be applied for non-willful violations, as well. However, this has not been OSHA’s practice (Bailey, Conn, Davis, Doran, & Duggin, 2008). OSHA resorted to applying multiplied penalties because “the current law is inadequate to deal with serious violators, repetitive violators, situations where people are at risk day after day” (Frontline, n.d.). This statement by Charles Jeffress refers to the fact that since the OSH Act started to be enacted in 1970, currently, many penalties are not proportional to the offenses for many companies, and especially for large enterprises.
Bailey, M. A., Conn, E. J., Davis, F. D., Doran, W. K., & Duggin, K. A. (2008).
Occupational safety and health law handbook (2nd ed.). Landham, MD: Government Institutes.
Frontline. (n.d.). Interview: Charles Jeffress. Retrieved from