Department of Labor, OSHA Announces Fine Increases for 2019


(Updated January 23, 2019)

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has released a pre-publication version of its Final Rule that will bring increased fines and penalties to the Department’s various agencies and enforcement programs for 2019.

Under the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 2015, all federal agencies are required to annually adjust their civil monetary penalties to account for the rate of inflation. For 2019, businesses can expect an increase of 2.52% over 2018 levels.

These penalty increases will apply to all agencies and enforcement programs operating under the DOL, including the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA). If your business is covered by OSHA standards and regulations, the cost of non-compliance is on the rise.

The chart below shows the 2019 increases for each type of OSHA violation:

Violation Type/Description CFR Citation 2018 Maximum Penalty 2019 Maximum Penalty 
Serious 29 CFR 1903.15(d)(3) $12,934 $13,260
Other-than-Serious 29 CFR 1903.15(d)(4) $12,934 $13,260
Willful 29 CFR 1903.15(d)(1) $129,336 $132,598
Repeated 29 CFR 1903.15(d)(2) $129,336 $132,598
Posting Requirement 29 CFR 1903.15(d)(6) $12,934 $13,260
Failure to Abate 29 CFR 1903.15(d)(5) $12,934 $13,260


In the meantime, employers should note that OSHA continues to operate uninterrupted during the government shutdown, having received funding from Congress back in September that should take the agency through 2019. The new penalty amounts go into effect on January 23, 2019 having been formally published in the Federal Register. Any fines assessed by OSHA prior to the publication of the Final Rule will be according to 2018 levels.

OSHA Enforcement Priorities for 2019

Compared to recent years, many would argue that OSHA has stepped up its enforcement efforts for 2019. For example, the agency has recently announced it will resume its Site-Specific Targeting (SST) program with the help of newly available injury and illness data collected through its Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses final rule (a.k.a. the Electronic Reporting Rule). Armed with this new data, OSHA will be able to more accurately target inspection and enforcement activities on establishments with the highest rates of injuries and illnesses, and equip the agency to better protect the safety and health of American workers. OSHA will also continue targeting specific industries and workplace hazards through its National and Local Emphasis Programs (NEP/LEP) and other Compliance Directives.

Another key indicator of the agency’s enforcement priorities for 2019 is OSHA’s Top 10 Most Cited Violations of 2018. OSHA publishes the list annually to summarize the previous year’s enforcement activities and help employers identify common workplace hazards, but it also serves as a clear signal of what OSHA is likely to focus on in terms of enforcement during the coming year. If 2018 tells us anything, it’s that OSHA will continue its long-standing emphasis on its Fall Protection and Hazard Communication Standards, two citations that have topped this list for several years running now.

Be sure to stay tuned to the VelocityEHS Blog for updates on OSHA regulatory and enforcement activities, and to get the latest news and views in EHS management.

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