On Safety

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Avoiding a penalty for free – it’s no scam

May 23, 2014
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Would you pay for something that’s available for free? Some people in the safety community do, and it could be the result of a scam.

As I’ve previously written, some companies offer to sell employers posters or other signage that are required by law to be posted in workplaces. These displays outline workers’ rights – from safety to wages.

But recently, the Kentucky Labor Cabinet warned employers that these posters are free – you don’t have to pay for labor guidelines that the government requires to be posted.

As the Kentucky Labor Cabinet points out, it’s not illegal for companies to sell poster packages for hundreds of dollars. But the companies may be using deceptive tactics – such as the threat of federal or state fines for not purchasing the posters – to convince employers to buy them.

Although a fine for failing to post required workplace posters is certainly real, the most recent example of up to $17,000 in penalties is a gross exaggeration, according to the Cabinet.

Kentucky isn’t the only state to warn employers about this scam, and it’s not new. For several years, similar scams have been occurring in other states, including Alabama, Maryland, South Dakota and Washington.

Don’t be scared into a purchase. OSHA and the Department of Labor have posters available for free on their websites.

State labor departments may require other posters, but those agencies also should offer them free of charge. Contact your state labor department to learn what guidelines are required to be posted and how you can acquire them.

OSHA's free workplace poster

A hi-rez/larger version and posters in additional languages are available on OSHA's website.

The opinions expressed in "On Safety" do not necessarily reflect those of the National Safety Council or affiliated local Chapters.

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