Much stiffer fines for workplace safety violations took effect last week, prompting the state Department of Labor to tout its free resources to make sure Maine businesses are in compliance.

New rules from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration are rolling out this month, but the nation’s workplace safety agency implemented a new fine structure Aug. 1 that imposes penalties 78 percent higher than previous fines.

For instance, a company found guilty of committing “willful” or repeated safety violations would have its maximum fine rise from $70,000 to $124,709 under the new mandates. Fines for lesser offenses would increase from $7,000 to $12,471 per day. The fine structure hadn’t been updated since 1990.

“There are three specific items related to OSHA that employers should know and address as soon as possible,” said Labor Commissioner Jeanne Paquette in a release. “These are understanding the new penalties, ensuring that you have a reporting procedure for workers and have informed them of it, being aware of whether any of your occupations are on the high-hazard list for OSHA inspections. As part of this compliance, employers need to make sure they have posted the most up-to-date required posters, which can be downloaded for free at the Maine Department of Labor’s website (

The state offers a number of free resources to businesses under its SafetyWorks! program to help identify potential problems or hazards. The program provides a trained consultant with industry-specific expertise to review a facility by appointment. The consultation is confidential and free. It could include such elements as recognizing safety hazards, sampling for air and noise exposures, recommending ways to reduce or to eliminate hazards, developing or improving a safety program, complying with federal OSHA regulations and identifying training needs, according to the release.

Additionally, employers must meet new federal guidelines on reporting workplace injuries starting Aug. 10.

A full list of the reporting changes and details by specific industry and job classifications can be found at

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