Starting this August, OSHA will raise the maximum penalty for serious violations from $7,000 to $12,471 and the maximum penalty for willful or repeated violations from $70,000 to $124,709 – an increase of 78 percent.
Any citations issued by OSHA after August 1, 2016, for violations that occurred after November 2, 2015, will be subject to the new penalties. For states that operate their own Occupational Safety and Health Plans, the agency requires adoption of maximum penalty levels that are “at least as effective as Federal OSHA’s.”
The increase – the first since 1990 – is the result of the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act passed in 2015, which provided new direction for adjusting penalties for inflation on a yearly basis and required agencies to publish “catch up” rules to make up for lost time since the last adjustments. Following this year’s initial hike, OSHA will continue to adjust penalty amounts for inflation each year based on the Consumer Price Index.
The agency says the change will help to create safer workplaces.
“Civil penalties should be a credible deterrent that influences behavior far and wide,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez in a news release announcing the increase. “Adjusting our penalties to keep pace with the cost of living can lead to significant benefits for workers and can level the playing field responsible employers who should not have to compete with those who don’t follow the law.”
You can find more information on OSHA’s web page outlining the changes.
The penalty hike is just one way OSHA is strengthening enforcement in order to help create safer workplaces, so it’s critical to make sure you’re taking key steps to protect employees and avoid costly noncompliance fines. VelocityEHS can help with a full platform of solutions to simplify EHS management and compliance, including Chemical Management, Incident Management, On-Demand Training, Audit & Inspection, Risk Analysis, and more. Contact us at 1.888.362.2007 to learn more.