Q. May an employer directly fine an employee who commits an OSHA violation?
A. Even though state-OSHA divisions may allow for such employer actions, be careful about levying personal fines on employees for violations of safety protocols or procedures, as outlined in state law or in your injury/illness prevention program (IIPP).
If you have undeniable proof that the employee had demonstrated willful neglect or clear intent to cause damage, then you may have a case. Before handing down any fines, however, also confirm if your company policies clearly spell out that employees may be cited (i.e. internally by your safety committee or safety administrator) if they violate safety protocols. If so, ensure that the policies describe the types of violations and the associated amount of potential fines.
That said, compel the employee to undergo additional safety training rather than pay a fine. In the event you are having more widespread problems with employees failing to follow safety protocols, you may want to look at implementing a scoreboard for safety and rewarding the team or department with the fewest incidents of injuries and/or citations for violating safety protocols.