The Six Types of OSHA Violations and Their Penalties

May 31, 2018

As conscientious as you and your company may be about federal OSHA compliance and keeping employees safe, you may need to undergo an OSHA inspection.

Here are six types of violations you could be cited for:

De Minimus

These violations do not have a monetary penalty because they do not impact health or safety. They are merely listed in the case inspection file. A ladder with rungs spaced 13 rather than 12 inches apart would be an example of a de minimus violation.


Such violations do not impose an immediate threat but are in recognition of a flaw in your OSHA compliance, such as not storing materials properly, poor recordkeeping or not posting required notices in work areas. Inspectors have a lot of latitude in the amount of the fine they can impose. Much depends on the attitude and cooperation of the business, but penalties can go from nothing to $12,500 per violation.


These violations impact safety and are perceived to pose a significant risk of death or injury. Even when unintended, the business is expected to have foreseen the hazard. Failure to make employees wear hard hats or wear steel-toed shoes where hazards exist are examples. Inspectors must assess $12,500 for each violation, though the size of the penalty can be modified depending on previous history, company size and level of cooperation.

Willful Violations

This is the most serious kind of violation. Employers who show an intentional or careless disregard for safety will be cited up to $125,000. If there was a fatality involved, the violations become a criminal matter and fines are a minimum of $250,000 for an individual/$500,000 for a T corporation. There is also possible jail time of six months. Using scaffolding that has proven to be faulty in other instances could be an example of a willful violation.

Repeated Violations

If the company has already been issued a citation for the same violation within the last three years, the penalty is $125,000 — unless the prior violation is under appeal. The repeat violation does not have to be at the original location; it can be at a different location. Thus, it’s important to communicate with all locations when OSHA violations occur.

Failure to Abate

If the company does not abate the problem it’s been cited for by the due date, it may be assessed a penalty of $7,000 per day it is in violation.

If you have concerns about a scheduled OSHA inspection or the results of a completed one, please give us a call.

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