Skip to content

What Is The Cost of Non-compliance

What Is The Cost of Non-compliance?

OSHA violations can be incredibly costly. Non-compliance is something that all organizations should be aware of and concerned about. Not only will this affect the overall health and safety of your business, but it will also result in penalties. These can be extremely expensive. 

If your company has any OSHA non-compliance issues, it needs to get them sorted out straight away. You never know when an OSHA inspection might take place. If they find any areas of concern during an inspection, it could leave lasting damage to your business. 

We’ll explore some of the reasons it’s so important to comply with OSHA standards and some of the consequences of non-compliance. 

Understanding OSHA Noncompliance

The U.S Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been steadily increasing its frequency of inspections. On top of this, the penalty amounts have also increased in a big way. Penalties in 2016 were increased by a staggering 76%, and the penalty amount stays up to date with inflation. 

The maximum penalty for OSHA violations sits at $13,653 per violation. If this doesn’t create enough of a blow for your business, repeated violations could cost a business up to $136,532 per violation. A penalty like this could be fatal to any company. 

To ensure that they don’t overlook any violations, OSHA can look back over five years to identify any repeat violations made by a business. This was passed in a 2018 court ruling. 

If your business is found guilty of this, you will have to pay the penalty. So, it’s essential to take OSHA compliance seriously. Ensuring no violations should be a priority for any business that faces potential health and safety risks. 

Some of the most common causes of violations come from fall protection, hazard communication, scaffolding, respiratory protection, electrical issues, and powered industrial trucks. Various other hazards could result in a violation. Being able to identify and avoid these issues through training and effective site inspections is critical. 

Different Types of OSHA Violations

To understand the cost of non-compliance, you need to understand the different types of violations that OSHA considers. Its type determines the cost of a violation. When figuring out the cost of a violation, OSHA considers the following six types of violations.

De Minimis

This is the lowest level of violation or the least serious one. If an inspector spots these violations during an OSHA inspection, they won’t issue any fines or citations, as this violation is insufficient for legal action. This is because this type of violation does not have a direct health and safety impact. If you do have a violation in this category, it will still require fixing. But, it’s nothing to worry about from a cost point of view. 


Other-Than-Serious violations have a direct relation to health or safety. They can be the cause of a fine during an inspection. However, these violations do not pose a major or serious risk. 

Generally, these violations are a mistake from the employer, where they are not aware that the violation exists. However, there is still the possibility of a large fine with these types of violations. An example of a violation in this category will be if there is no proper signage placed around a hazardous area.


A Serious violation is something that poses a direct threat to the health and safety of workers. In this case, the employer knows that the hazard is there but does nothing to prevent it or protect workers from it.


Willful violations are when an employer intentionally goes against OSHA standards to create a hazard in the workplace. Fines for this can be extremely costly. Willful violations may also result in jail time. In addition, these offenses have the possibility of turning into criminal charges, depending on the circumstances.


This is when a citation has been made in the past, and the exact same or very similar citation is seen again at a later stage. 

Failure to Abate

This can be a particularly costly violation, as OSHA can issue fines each day. When an inspector gives a citation during an OSHA inspection, the employer will have a specific amount of time to amend the citation. If the employer does not do this, OSHA will issue additional fines until the employer corrects the violation. 

Consequences of OSHA Violations

If an OSHA inspector makes a citation, it could have varied consequences for your business. This depends on how serious the violation is, whether it is repeated, and how quickly you resolve the issue. The six types of violations listed above are fairly easy to penalize and add value to, with penalties going up to a maximum of $136,532.

These are not the only possible penalties that can result from OSHA noncompliance, though. Some other possible violations can include falsifying records or reports, resulting in a fine of $10,000 or 6 months of jail time. Violations of posting requirements could also result in a hefty fine. 

Some of the biggest consequences could actually come from claims made by the injured workers. For example, if the issue causes injuries, worker compensation payments, rising insurance premiums, and legal fees could all be a consequence. 

Then there is also the money lost during downtime when workers are not available or an area is too hazardous to operate in. 

This means that the citations and penalties that OSHA issues are only the direct costs of violations. These costs are often only the tip of the iceberg. Indirect costs, such as medical costs and compensation, could end up resulting in far bigger consequences. 

How to Stay OSHA Compliant

Clearly, the cost of noncompliance is a serious issue. Therefore, the most important thing for any employer to do is to make sure that they meet all necessary OSHA standards at all times. If they don’t, major consequences could follow. 

The first thing to focus on is worker training and education. Employers need to make sure that their workforce is regularly and properly trained. They need to be educated on all OSHA standards and potential health and safety risks. OSHA provides readily available training resources that make it easy for any business to maintain safety standards. 

However, once a workforce has been properly educated and trained, they still need to identify risks that may occur. This is especially important for workers in the field who face new workplaces and spaces each day. 

To make OSHA compliance easy for these situations, use a specialized OSHA compliance safety app like Field1st. This provides job hazard assessment tools to help alert workers of any potential dangers. With the right technology solution, your employees can easily access daily safety defense training – even when out in the field. This is the easiest way to stay up to date with compliance and enforce best practices at all times. 


The cost of OSHA non-compliance can be detrimental to a business. So, this is an issue that all employers and workplaces need to take seriously. Beyond the fact that OSHA violations cause a hazardous work environment, which can affect your workers, violations can also result in many expenses. These include direct OSHA penalties, as well as a string of other indirect costs. 

Any organization must stay up to date with OSHA compliance to avoid these penalties. The damage can be significant, leaving a major lasting impact on any company. Make sure that your business utilizes the right compliance technology and training to avoid these violations completely!