The True Cost of an OSHA Violation

An OSHA compliance safety and health officer wearing an orange safety vest inspects a construction site completing a form clipped to a clipboard.

This blog was updated in January 2024, to reflect the annual increases in civil penalties for OSHA violations published by The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) on January 8, 2024, effective January 15, 2024.

OSHA fines are on the rise, but what about the not-so-hidden costs?

Start-ups, small businesses, and major corporations across many spectrums have a common goal when it comes to OSHA: comply with the numerous regulations in place, or pay a significant price.

As OSHA defense attorneys who have helped employers across Texas and the U.S., Hendershot Cowart P.C. understands the challenges associated with workplace health and safety compliance.

We also know the repercussions of non-compliance and citations, which is why we offer both proactive services to help clients take the steps to deal with citations before they occur and reduce exposure to serious penalties, and reactive representation for those who face immediate and pressing needs following OSHA inspections, catastrophes, and citations.

Here’s What OSHA Citations Can Cost Your Company

Compliance with occupational regulations is critical to protecting employees from preventable harm. Though employers may find these rules cumbersome, convoluted, and at times exceedingly costly, the primary purpose is to protect workers’ lives.

On January 8, 2024, OSHA increased the maximum penalty amounts that may be assessed after Jan. 15, 2024, depending on the type of violation:

Type of Violation


De minimis

No fine / citation



Posting Requirements

$16,131 per violation

Failure to Abate

$16,131 per day beyond the abatement date

Repeat Violation / Willful Violation

Up to $161,323 per violation

The Hidden Penalties of an OSHA Violation

Fines alone are not the only consequence employers face when cited by OSHA. There are many other repercussions and penalties that can have a far-reaching impact on companies and the individuals who own and operate them. Examples include:

Type of Violation

Other Potential Costs and Consequence



Posting Requirements

  • Costs of correcting hazards
  • Liability, litigation, indemnification
  • Additional regulatory investigation / enforcement action (i.e. EPA)
  • Reputational harm
  • Loss of contracts

Failure to Abate

  • Substantial daily fines each day past date of abatement
  • Costs associated with immediate correction of hazards
  • Liability / litigation

Repeat Violations

  • Considerable fines
  • Impact on multi-state / multi-facility operations
  • Potential grounds for SVEP placement
  • Liability / litigation

Willful Violations

  • Substantially enhanced fines
  • Punitive damages
  • Increased oversight / inspections
  • Reputational harm
  • Potential criminal charges and fines against individuals / company
  • Potential terms of imprisonment

Multiple violations / fatalities / catastrophes

COVID-19 Update

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, OSHA has refined guidance and regulations to prioritize enforcement of workplace safety violations related to COVID-19. In addition to increasing worksite inspections, OSHA has also issued an Updated Interim Enforcement Response Plan that reiterates employers’ obligations to determine whether employees’ infections are work-related, and report them accordingly.

On June 1, 2020, OSHA issued its first citation over COVID-19 to a Georgia nursing home that failed to timely report work-related hospitalizations of six staff members who contracted the virus. OSHA classified the citation as “other than serious,” but citation classifications may vary depending on the circumstances involved, the standard violated, and an employer’s history of workplace safety violations.

As OSHA continues to prioritize enforcement of workplace safety standards in the COVID-19 era, employers need to ensure they proactively address compliance issues in accordance to the latest developments. If you need legal support, our OHSA lawyers at Hendershot Cowart P.C. are available to help.

Facing an OSHA Citation or Have Compliance Questions? Call (713) 909-7323

OSHA citations put a lot on the line, which is why it becomes so vital for employers to prioritize compliance and decisive action – whether on a preventative and consistent basis, or as soon as possible after violations have been alleged. If your company has been cited, immediate action can allow proven attorneys to fully explore your options for defense and your ability to mitigate potential fines and penalties.

Hendershot Cowart P.C. has been counseling and defending businesses in a range of OSHA matters for more than 30 years, and is available to speak about your needs and potential plan of action. Call (713) 909-7323 or contact us online to request a consultation.

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