Get Ready, OSHA'S Fines and Penalties Are Going Up!

Date: Jul 07, 2016

On June 30, 2016, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced a new schedule of greatly increased maximum civil penalties for violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) and OSHA standards and regulations. The increased civil penalties are required by the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act (2015 Inflation Adjustment Act), by which Congress (1) directed OSHA to modify its penalties to account for post-1990 inflation through a “catch up” adjustment, and (2) established a method for annually increasing maximum penalties based on changes in the Consumer Price Index.   

OSHA’s maximum penalties have not been adjusted since 1990. The 2015 Inflation Adjustment Act gave the Department of Labor (DOL) authority to increase its penalties to adjust for inflation. Congress required DOL to implement the new penalty structure through an interim final rule, which DOL issued on June 30, 2016. Under DOL’s interim final rule, OSHA’s maximum civil penalties will increase by 78%, with its maximum penalty for serious and other than serious violations rising from $7,000 to $12,471, and its maximum penalties for willful or repeated violation penalties increasing from $70,000 to $124,709.  

The new penalty structure goes into effect on August 1, 2016 and will apply to all penalties assessed after that date.   

For more information on OSHA’s regulations and enforcement initiatives, or for assistance with OSHA compliance, investigations, or litigation proceedings, contact any member of Keller and Heckman’s Workplace Safety and Health Team.