OSHA Increases Penalties, First Since 1990

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is raising its penalties to match the rate of inflation marking the first increase in penalties since 1990.

The interim final rule was published July 1, 2016, and is based on the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act which became law in November 2015.

OSHA invites public comment for a 45-day period after which clarifying statements will be followed by a final rule. The rule will be in effect during the comment period. Civil penalties have remained unchanged since 1990, which means a 78% increase in maximum and minimum violations for penalties assessed after August 1, 2016 for associated violations assess after November 2, 2015.

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This results in serious violations that maxed out at $7,000 per violation can now cost up to $12,471 per violation. Willful or Repeated violation penalties have gone up from $70,000 to $124,709.

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This increase isn’t a one-time catch up, agencies are also directed to adjust their penalties for inflation each year. The stated purpose of this adjustment is to maintain the deterrent effect of civil monetary penalties.

This act also affects penalties administered by the Mining Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP), Wage and Hour Division (WHD), and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).