Machine Safety: Has OSHA ever fined an employee for a safety violation?

Everyone knows that OSHA applies fines to employers for citable safety violations to its regulations. Yet, since OSHA also requires employees to be responsible for safety, has an employee that violates safety regulations ever been fined?


Everyone knows that OSHA applies fines to employers for citable safety violations to their regulations. Yet, since OSHA also requires employees to be responsible for safety, has an employee that violates safety regulations ever been fined?

OSHA logo

First of all OSHA has their General Duty Clause right up front in SEC. 5. Duties. Section (b) below is where you’ll see that OSHA clearly lays out the employee compliance requirement using undeniable language, “Each employee shall…..”.


      (a) Each employer --


(1) shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees;
(2) shall comply with occupational safety and health standards promulgated under this Act.)  .


29 USC 654


     (b)  Each employee shall comply with occupational safety and health standards and all                           rules, regulations, and orders issued pursuant to this Act which are applicable to                                        his own actions and conduct.


You would think that this is such a powerful “right” and “requirement” that they would make sure that it’s listed in an obvious place. However, looking in all the obvious places it does not appear that OSHA has ever fined an employee for a willful violation of an OSHA regulation. In reading the General Duty Clause, it appears that employer and employee are equally treated in relation to the normative use of the word “shall”. We all know that employer’s are fined by OSHA every day of the year for various reasons. These fines are even highlighted in OSHA’s bi-weekly news letter, OSHA QuickTakes. So:


1.)  Has anybody ever come across similar information regarding equal treatment focused at the    employee?

2.)  How about this one – has anybody ever come across information where OSHA de- emphasizes their emphasis on the employee in the General Duty Clause?

3.)  Or, has OSHA ever re-defined employer versus employee stating that their “enforcement” action is only targeted at employers?

4.)  One more, has OSHA ever acknowledged that a willful act of one employee (to disregard an OSHA regulation) caused an injury to another employee and that no fine was cited?


Your comments or suggestion are always welcome so please let us know your thoughts. Submit your ideas, experiences, and challenges on this subject in the comments section below. Cannot see the comments box below? Click on the headline here: Machine Safety: Has OSHA ever fined an employee for a safety violation? ...then scroll down.


Related articles:

Machine Safety – without an injury, OSHA issues citations for $1M +

We’re Safe – We’ve Had No Machine Safety Accidents For A Long Time

Machine Safety – does OSHA reference consensus standards for compliance?


Contact: for “Solutions for Machine Safety”.

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