On Safety

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Criminal prosecutions in the U.S. and the world

July 20, 2015

I recently explored the rareness of criminal prosecutions for workplace safety and health violations in the United States. But how does it compare to other countries?

In the United Kingdom, criminal convictions of certain safety and health violations can yield prison sentences of as much as two years. (Convictions for OSHA violations yield a maximum sentence of six months.)

Under Canadian law, no limit is placed on the maximum fine a corporation can receive for serious offenses, and individuals can get up to life imprisonment for criminal negligence. However, in practice, such penalties are rarely handed out.

Australia can impose up to five years’ imprisonment for individuals in positions of power who put workers at risk of death or serious injury. Managers of a factory in India where a worker has suffered a “serious bodily injury” could go away for two years.

According to the International Labor Organization, violators of occupational safety and health laws can be imprisoned for up to four years in Spain, up to four years in Russia and up to four years in Sweden. Egypt has no maximum sentencing limit.

This is just a sample. ILO offers an ability to compare all countries’ prison terms for occupational safety and health violations.

Many countries throughout the world have the ability to impose penalties far greater than the six months in the United States. Does this surprise you? Let me know in the comments below.

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

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