crane inspector
Having -and being- undertrained or untrained on a site project in the construction or heavy industry is dangerous. Interns and graduates in office jobs may make a typo or get the wrong order of coffee for their bosses, but such mistakes are easily corrected. Accidents brought on by ignorance or carelessness in the construction industry can cost lives and cause damage worth thousands of dollars. The impacts of these mistakes can carry forward for years in frustrating, expensive lawsuits for both employee and employer, and severe reputational damage, as two Philadelphia construction firms came to painfully realize:

The Philadelphia Building Collapse

In 2013, a 4-story wall of a building undergoing demolition collapsed onto an adjacent Salvation Army thrift store, killing six and injuring 14 others. Sean Benschop, a 42 year-old heavy equipment operator of S&R Contracting, was behind the wheel of the excavator for the demolition project. Griffin Campbell was the 51 year-old contractor from Campbell Construction for the project.
The cause of the collapse, according to OSHA (Occupational Health and Safety Administration) Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health David Michaels, was a deliberate neglect of demolition safety fundamentals. This was after an inspection, carried out 3 days prior, concluded that the wall’s critical support structures had been removed –an outright violation of OSHA demolition standards. Other violations included:
  • Removing parts from lower floors before upper floors
  • Failure to provide an engineering survey
  • Failure to demolish from top-down
  • Failure to provide hard hats with present hazards of head injury, fall protection PPE, fall arrest systems, and adequate fall hazard training.
  • Failure to inspect and maintain stairs
For these violations, OSHA intended to impose penalties of $313,000 to Campbell Construction and $84,000 to S&R Contracting. After a guilty plea on charges of manslaughter, Sean Bishop was sentenced to 7.5 to 15 years imprisonment, while Griffin Campbell received 15 to 30 years in prison.

Types of OSHA Violations

OSHA imposes penalties depending on the severity of violations. The Penalties (as of 2023 Annual Adjustments to OSHA Civil Penalties) are shown in the table below:

Type of Violation Minimum Penalty Maximum Penalty
Serious $ 1,116 per violation $ 15,625 per violation
Other-Than Serious $ 0 per violation $ 15,625 per violation
Willful or Repeated $ 10,360* per violation $ 156,259per violation
Posting Requirements $ 0 per violation $ 15,625 per violation
Failure to Abate N/A $ 15,625 per day unabated beyond abatement date (30 days maximum)

*For a repeated other-than-serious violation without an initial penalty, a GBP of $446 shall be proposed for the first repeated violation, $1,116 for the second, and $2,232 for a third repeated violation.

1. Serious Violation

A serious violation is incurred on the employer when they know an existing worksite hazard can result in death, but they do nothing to resolve it. Fines are levied according to the seriousness (or gravity) of the violation, and graded according to OSHA Gravity-based Penalties:

Severity Probability GBP Gravity OIS Code
High Greater $ 15,625 High 10
Medium Greater $ 13,394 Moderate 5
Low Greater $ 11,162 Moderate 5
High Lesser $ 11,162 Moderate 5
Medium Lesser $ 8,929 Moderate 5
Low Lesser $ 6,696 Low 1

*OIS – The Occupational Safety and Health Information System

GBP = Severity of Violation + Probability of Hazard Occurrence

2. Other-Than-Serious
Other-than-serious violations are those that do not result in personnel death, but instead compromise their health and/or safety. For all other-than serious violations, only minimal severity is assigned. This means the most serious injury/illness due to exposure of any hazards present would not require (professional) medical treatment, cause death, nor serious physical harm.
However, there is an allowance for the Area Director to enforce a $15,625 penalty to achieve a deterrent effect for other-than-serious violations.
3. Willful or Repeated
This is a violation where the employer either knowingly failed to comply with safety requirements or acted with indifference to employee safety. The penalty incurred is $ 156,259 per violation.
OSHA reduces penalties for willful violations by the number of personnel, as shown:
Employee Number Percent Reduction
10 or fewer 80
11 to 20 60
21 to 30 50
31 to 40 40
41 to 50 30
51 to 100 20
101 to 250 10
251 or more 0

4. Posting Requirements

When an employer receives an OSHA notice, he/she/they must post it at (or near) the location of the violation. This lets employees know of the specific hazard they may be exposed to.

The notice must remain for a minimum of 3 working days, or until the hazard is removed, whichever is longer.

5. Failure to Abate

The OSHA notice records the date by which a violation must be resolved. Failure to resolve by said date can incur a maximum penalty fee of $15,625 per day unabated.

Heavy Equipment Operator Training

As an employer, do not let your equipment operator/s cost you your company’s reputation, productive time and thousands of dollars in fines and legal fees. As an employer, you cannot risk your company and freedom with careless and avoidable mistakes. The first step in protecting yourself is to have a verifiable training program in place and documentation of your due diligence to safety. Total Equipment Training provides you with a wide array of heavy equipment training programs based on OSHA and ASME Standards, as well as professional, detailed inspection services for the entire construction industry.
These services are provided at competitive rates, with results that definitely beat the competition. The average daily training cost for a team of 8-10 is about $2,100. Specific trainer charges vary on the program/s type, as well as the location of the training. Our skilled training personnel spans from coast to coast, so our professionals will always be within reach. Ask yourself, ‘Can you afford not to train your employees?’ ‘Can you risk working without proper training?’ Reach out to TET today, and turn the worksite into a safe, mistake-free environment.

Barb Fullman- CEO of Total Equipment Training
About the Author

As the owner of Total Equipment Training, Barb Fullman has been an active contributor to the heavy equipment training industry for over 23 years. Barb, a Penn State University graduate, is recognized as the highest ranking women-owned heavy equipment training business in the US. As a leading authority and provider of heavy equipment training, training manuals and tests based on OSHA Standards and Regulations, Total Equipment Trainings’ client list is composed of most of the Fortune 1000 companies focusing on energy, construction, heavy highway, and manufacturing.

Barb’s motto is “Stay safe, stay up to date”. She is committed to up-to-date & technically correct training, whether it is via in-person or through our library of online heavy equipment resources. With over 50 OSHA qualifying training topics to choose from with TET, the most popular heavy equipment training subjects are mobile cranes, NCCCO, all “dirt equipment”, rigging, crane inspections, and train-the-trainer.