Types of OSHA Violations: 2024 Factsheet

Six Types of OSHA Violations

In this article we take a look at the question: what are the six OSHA violation types? Emphasis is provided on examples for each violation in the context of the bloodborne pathogens standard.

There are six types of OSHA violation. 

  • Serious
  • Other-than Serious
  • Willful or Repeated
  • Posting Violation
  • Failure to Abate Violation
  • De Minimis Violation

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has the power to issue fines for five of these violation types. 

The sixth type of OSHA violation – a ‘de minimis’ violation – will only result in a fine if it escalates and turns into one of the other five violation types.

The Six OSHA Violation Types

A safer workplace is an essential foundation for a productive and successful business. 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) plays a front line role in achieving this goal by setting and enforcing standards for safe and healthy working conditions. 

A significant part of the OSHA purview is identifying and addressing violations of these standards.

Below we break down these violations in more detail.

A violation that has no direct or immediate impact on safety or health. For example, an employer fails to post the OSHA poster in a visible location, but has otherwise complied with the bloodborne pathogens standard.

A violation that has a direct relationship to safety and health, but is not likely to cause death or serious physical harm. For example, an employer does not provide adequate handwashing facilities for employees who may be exposed to bloodborne pathogens.

A violation where there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a condition that exists, or from one or more practices, means, methods, operations, or processes that have been adopted or are in use. For example, an employer does not provide personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, gowns, masks, and eye protection for employees who may be exposed to bloodborne pathogens.

A violation that the employer intentionally and knowingly commits. The employer either knows that what he or she is doing constitutes a violation, or is aware that a hazardous condition existed and made no reasonable effort to eliminate it. For example, an employer knowingly allows employees to reuse disposable needles or sharps that may be contaminated with bloodborne pathogens.

A violation of any standard, regulation, rule, or order where, upon reinspection, a substantially similar violation can bring a fine of up to $145,027 for each such violation. For example, an employer has been cited for failing to provide hepatitis B vaccination for employees who may be exposed to bloodborne pathogens, and failing to correct the same violation upon reinspection.

A violation where the employer has not corrected a previous violation for which a citation has been issued and the abatement date has passed. The employer may be fined up to $14,502 for each day that the violation remains uncorrected. For example, an employer has been cited for failing to implement an exposure control plan for bloodborne pathogens, and does not correct the violation within the specified time frame.

Penalties for OSHA Violations

From its creation in 1970, until 2016, the penalties for OSHA violation penalties were not considered a significant deterrent for employers that willfully or repeatedly violated OSHA. 

The penalty structure was changed in 2016 and it is now adjusted for inflation each year. The 2023 penalties for OSHA violations are shown below:

Type of OSHA Violation

Minimum Penalty

Maximum Penalty


$1,116 per violation

$15,625 per violation


$0 per violation

$15,625 per violation

Willful or Repeated

$1,1162* per violation

$156,259 per violation


$0 per violation

$15,625 per violation

Failure to Abate


$15,625 per day unabated beyond the abatement date, generally limited to 30 days maximum.

* Note: For a repeated other-than-serious violation or posting violation that otherwise would have no initial penalty, a penalty of $414 is imposed for the first repeated violation, $1,116 for the second repeated violation, and $2,232 for a third repetition.

For more information on avoiding fines for OSHA violations relating to the bloodborne pathogens standard check this article.

OSHA State Plans

It is also important to be aware that in U.S. states and territories where OSHA State Plans exist, each local authority is free to set its own penalty structures and minimum and maximum penalties. If individual states do choose to do this, the penalties must be at least as effective as those of federal OSHA.

OSHA Violation Types: Conclusion

Due to the change in the OSHA penalty structure, it can be financially prudent for employers to ensure they comply with all applicable OSHA standards.

These standards include the bloodborne pathogen standard which mandates annual bloodborne pathogen training for all employees determined to have an exposure risk. The training must be provided free of charge to the employee and must result in the issue of a bloodborne pathogens certificate to prove compliance.

You can start getting your staff certified right here.

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