Employment LawScene Alert: OSHA Penalties to Dramatically Increase in 2016

In early November, President Obama signed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. One item that should be of particular note to employers is that, under the Act, OSHA penalties will rise significantly.

Because OSHA penalties have been consistent for over two decades, once the Act goes into place on July 1, 2016, there is an immediate “catch-up” provision that will adjust the penalties as much as 150%. However,  OSHA is also required to adjust the penalties on January 15 every year based on the Consumer Price Index (“CPI”). Because the CPI has increased 82% since the OSHA penalties were set in 1990, there is a possibility that the fines could be raised by that amount. The below chart shows the current penalty amounts and the amounts that they may be increased to:

Type of Violation

Current Maximum Penalty

Adjusted Maximum (150%)

Adjusted Maximum (182%)

Willful Violation

$70,000

$105,000

$127,400

Serious Violation

$7,000

$10,500

$12,740

Other-The-Serious Violation

$7,000

$10,500

$12,740

De Minimis Violation

$7,000

$10,500

$12,740

Failure to Abate Violation

$7,000

$10,500

$12,740

Repeat Violation

$70,000

$105,000

$127,400

These new fines will go into place August 1, 2016. Therefore, employers must keep a keen eye on safety now more than ever because OSHA has increased enforcement and now will increase its monetary penalties.

These new fines will go into place August 1, 2016. Therefore, employers must keep a keen eye on safety now more than ever because OSHA has increased enforcement and now will increase its monetary penalties.

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