The Minnesota Occupational Safety and Health Act’s purpose is “to assure so far as possible every working man and woman in the state of Minnesota safe and healthful working conditions and to preserve our human resources.” Minnesota’s OSHA standards are codified in chapter 182 of Minnesota’s statutes. Minnesota’s Occupational Safety and Health Rules also adopt the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Standards. Minnesota’s occupational safety and health rules provide more protection than its federal counterpart by applying to all places of employment in the state unless the place of employment is strictly under jurisdiction of the federal government.
Priorities in an inspection to ensure compliance with Minnesota’s Occupational Safety and Health Rules and Regulations are: (1) imminent danger conditions; (2) catastrophes/fatalities/serious injuries; (3) employee complaints; (4) target industry inspections; and (5) follow-up inspections. If any violations are found, a citation can be issued to the company. The citations are of a civil nature; however, criminal penalties can be imposed if there is evidence of willful noncompliance.
Under Minnesota’s OSHA, an employer may be issued a penalty of up to $7,000 for each serious violation of the act, or any occupational safety and health standards. If the employer willfully or repeatedly violates the safety and health standards, the employer may be assessed penalties of up to $70,000 for each violation. If there is a failure to correct the violation, there can be additional penalties of up to $7,000 for each day the violation remains uncorrected.
If there is a violation that results in the death of an employee, employers can be fined up to $25,000. However, if the death occurred at a small employer (fewer than 50 employees), the fine can be broken up into smaller installments.
Employer Rights and Responsibilities
The following are some of the employer’s rights and responsibilities under OSHA:
- Provide a workplace free from serious recognized hazards and comply with standards, rules and regulations under OSHA.
- Examine workplace conditions to make sure they conform to applicable OSHA standards.
- Make sure employees have and use safe tools and equipment and properly maintain this equipment.
- Use color codes, posters, labels or signs to warn employees of potential hazards.
- Establish or update operating procedures and communicate them so that employees follow safety and health requirements.
- Employers must provide safety training in a language and vocabulary workers can understand. In addition, some employers, depending on their industry, must develop a written workplace accident and injury production program. All industries that that require a workplace accident injury reduction program are listed in Minnesota Rule section 5208.1500. Any workplace accident injury reduction program must have goals and objectives, describe responsibility for creating the program, methods to identify, analyze, and control new or existing hazards, conditions in operation, etc. The workplace accident injury reduction program must be reviewed annually.
- Employers with hazardous chemicals in the workplace must develop and implement a written hazard communication program and train employees on the hazards they are exposed to and proper precautions.
- Keep records of work-related injuries and illnesses.
- Not discriminate against employees who exercise their rights under the Act.
- Correct cited violation by the deadline set in the OSHA citation and submit required abatement verification documentation.
- Employers are entitled to protection of trade secrets or other legally privileged communications.
- An employer who receives a citation and/or proposed monetary penalty following an OSHA inspection may contest the citation or penalty by submitting a notice of contest to the Commissioner of the Department of Labor and Industry.
- Work-related fatalities that results in the death of one employee or hospitalization of at least three employees must be reported Minnesota OSHA within eight hours. These reports do not need to be in writing and can be made orderly in person or by telephone.