OSHA Penalty Increases About to Take Effect

Near the end of 2015, the Department of Labor announced that OSHA would be making  numerous changes to its enforcement and policies for the year 2016 and beyond. Included amongst these changes is a dramatic increase in its monetary penalties for violations. OSHA’s penalties had previously remained unchanged since 1990. Pursuant to the federal budget signed into law on November 2, 2015, however, OSHA was authorized to increase its penalties by 78 percent. Additionally, OSHA will now continue to adjust its penalties for inflation on a yearly basis based upon the Consumer Price Index.

These penalty increases are slated to take effect starting on August 1, 2016. After this date, any citations issued by OSHA will be governed by the new penalty structure, so long as the violation occurred after November 2, 2015. OSHA will be revising its Field Operations Manual by this date to provide guidance for its field staff on the implementation of the new penalties. OSHA will also continue to reduce its penalties for smaller businesses based upon factors such as the number of employees.

With the new penalties in effect, employers can expect a significant increase in maximum fines for violations. Where the maximum fine for a Serious or Other-Than-Serious Posting Violation was once $7,000 per violation, it will now be $12,471 per violation. Failure to Abate penalties will also increase from $7,000 per day beyond the abatement date to $12,471 per day. Willful or Repeated violations will increase from a maximum penalty of $70,000 per violation to $124,709 per violation.

For more information on these pending increases, visit OSHA’s enforcement resource page. Resources are also available for OSHA’s free On-Site Consultation Program for small business, as well as regional office contact information for further assistance

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