November 25, 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 24, 2015 Media Contact: Julie Rabinowitz, 207-621-5009
Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration to raise fines as much as 80 percent by August 2016
AUGUSTA—Commissioner of Labor Jeanne Paquette announced today that the Maine Department of Labor has concerns about the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) authorization to raise its fines. Under the recent federal budget deal, OSHA fines may increase by as much as 80 percent by August of 2016.
Governor Paul R. LePage supported Commissioner Paquette’s position. “Maine is leading the way by educating our employers about the value of workplace safety. By making workplaces safer, businesses can avoid these increasing fines. The priority should be helping employers invest in safety and training, which is what our state’s SafetyWorks! program does.”
Commissioner Paquette provided background on the department’s position. “Certainly, when violations are willful or repeated, fines are necessary to send the right message. Private sector employers need to be aware that these federal fines are increasing.”
She added, “The Maine Department of Labor also has the authority to fine employers for workplace safety violations, although public sector employers only. However, in our state, we try to work with the employer and will reduce the fine for non-willful violations as long as the employer is making the necessary corrections. It is better for the people of Maine when a public sector employer’s limited resources, being taxpayer dollars, are reinvested in worker safety rather than going to the state’s general fund.”
Paquette noted, “We believe that the same principal applies at the federal level. Every investment in correcting a workplace hazard improves the lives of workers and reduces the associated costs that injuries carry.”
“Maine has one of the strongest workplace safety consulting programs in the country, SafetyWorks!,” stated the Commissioner. “I encourage all businesses to contact the department to learn about how the SafetyWorks! program can help them improve safety and avoid these higher fines.”
SafetyWorks! is not OSHA and cannot issue fines or citations to private businesses. SafetyWorks! provides a trained consultant with industry-specific expertise who will review the facility by appointment. The consultation may include such elements as recognizing safety hazards, sampling for air and noise exposures, recommending ways to reduce or to eliminate hazards, developing or improving a safety program, complying with federal OSHA regulations and identifying training needs.
Employers interested in learning more about the consulting and training services offered by SafetyWorks! should call 1-877-SAFE 345 (1-877-723-3345) or visit http://www.safetyworksmaine.com . The program trains about 8,000 people and consults at nearly 1,000 worksites in Maine each year.