OSHA Silica Dust Fines Aren’t Cheap

OSHA Silica Dust Fines Aren't Cheap

We’ve been talking a lot about OSHA’s silica dust regulations over the past year or so. From the time of the first announcement to the extra 3 months of grace the industry got, it’s been a hot topic in the concrete industry. With all the money OSHA is spending on education, there’s an enforcement side as well. So just how much are those OSHA silica dust fines?

As it is with so many different topics, the answer depends. At least the number of variables is quite a bit lower. Here’s a quick breakdown:

OSHA Silica Dust Fines

  • Serious violation (other than serious posting requirements): $12,934
  • Failure to abate: $12,934
  • Willful or repeated violations: $129,336

But That’s Not All…

Let’s take a closer look. The fine for a serious violation is up to $12,934. That’s good since OSHA can levy a smaller penalty. The bad news is that it’s a per violation fine. So multiply $12,934 by the number of violations you have and you’re in the six-figure range after the eighth.

The failure to abate penalty is the same rate, also as a maximum, so you still have the chance at some leeway. But this fine is a per day penalty since the abatement date. So if you’re just now getting serious, your maximum fine is well over $1,000,000 as of December 21st. $1,128,075 if you’re keeping score at home. Ouch.

When you move into the realm of willful/repeat offender, you’re essentially getting a 10x multiplier. That’s great for video games, terrible for OSHA silica dust fines. Each one will now cost you a maximum of $126,749 that would be much better spent on getting in compliance and then buying a yacht or private plane. Just sayin’.

OSHA and Self-Employed Individuals

Some people want to know if OSHA can cite a self-employed individual working on a construction site for violations. The answer is no.

According to OSHA:

“If a construction worker is truly self-employed — is not an employee — and has no employees working for him or her, OSHA has no authority to require that individual to abide by OSHA construction requirements.”

That’s good news for people operating their own business as a sole proprietor. However, for obvious reasons, you should still do everything possible to work safely and protect your clients.

As long as you’re here, check out our Best OSHA-compliant dust extractor article!

The Bottom Line

Whether you’re a two-man crew or a major construction company, the potential fines OSHA can levy against you for failing to comply with the silica dust regulations are steep. While there’s some inherent grace built-in for those that genuinely try, but don’t quite get it right, or show remorse by trying to remedy the situation as quickly as possible, don’t expect much with a “ask forgiveness later” kind of mentality.

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