If you’re not aware, last November President Obama signed a bill that enables OSHA to increase the civil monetary penalties issued for violations. Bottom line, there is an OSHA penalty increase coming this year.

The bill permits OSHA to issue a “catch-up adjustment” to be effective August 1, 2016 and subsequent annual adjustments based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

What might the OSHA penalty increase look like?

The expectation is that the initial catch up will reflect the 80% increase in the CPI from 1990 to present. If this is the case, the maximum monetary penalties change as follows:

  • Other-than-Serious and Serious violations maximum will increase from $7,000 to $12,600
  • Repeat and Willful violations will increase from $70,000 to $126,000

What does OSHA’s penalty increase mean for employers?

“OSHA inspections and penalties are important and effective components of a comprehensive strategy to improve workplace safety and health. That is why we have made strong, fair and effective enforcement one of OSHA’s primary objectives in this administration.”
– Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA

According to OSHA, it plans to pursue more “impactful” (penalty-laden) inspections for fiscal year 2016. The thought is that more expensive fines for workplace safety violations will send a stronger message to employers to improve workplace safety efforts.

The budget bill requires OSHA to annually increase the monetary penalties based on the percentage increase to the CPI, meaning that employers will have to monitor OSHA every January 15 to determine whether an increase has been implemented and by how much.

What is the OSHA penalty increase bill?

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 was signed into law on Monday, November 2, 2015 and Section 701 requires OSHA to begin indexing its penalty limits to inflation. The Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015 also has “catch-up” provisions to increase the existing penalty limits set in 1990 to its civil monetary penalty structure that account for inflation and an annual penalty limit adjustment to keep up with inflation.

Since 1990, OSHA has been one of only three federal agencies that were specifically exempted from a law that required federal agencies to raise their fines to keep pace with inflation. This section of the budget bill eliminates this exemption for OSHA.

The exact amounts have not been determined yet; however, new fine increases must take place by August 1, 2016.

Questions about OSHA’s Penalty Adjustments?

If you have questions about OSHA’s penalty adjustments, how to handle an OSHA inspection or how to comply with OSHA’s regulations, I would be happy to help.