OSHAEarlier this month, the Wall Street Journal reported that federal penalties for workplace-safety violations increased for the first time since 1990, raising maximum fines for the most severe citations to $125,000 from $70,000 and for other serious violations to $12,500 from $7,000. While the change represents an 80 percent increase, it brings the fines more in line with other federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency. The rate increase came courtesy of a little-noticed provision of the budget bill signed into law on Nov. 2 by President Obama and took workplace-safety experts by surprise, according to Business Insurance.

Make sure you’re not caught by surprise once the new penalties are in place in summer 2016. According to Washington, D.C. law firm Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP, the 10 most frequently cited violations involve safety requirements for fall protection, hazard communication, scaffolding, respiratory protection, powered industrial trucks, lockout/tagout, ladders, electrical wiring, machine guarding, and electrical systems design. A simple accident could set you back considerably—and a serious event, significantly more—if you don’t have the correct protections in place.

Review and update your safety and compliance regimens now to ensure regulatory compliance and the safety of your valued employees. If you’re in the market for a new workers compensation program, Distinguished Speciality offers competitive premiums and commissions rates. Also available are prevention programs, loss control resources and workshops—all vital in fostering a culture of safety throughout an organization, mitigating on-the-job accidents and injuries, getting employees back to work as soon as possible, and having a productive and healthy staff.