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OSHA Fines Surge in 2016, Adding 25 Years of Inflation

January 18, 2016

Mark Greco

Fines imposed by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are set to jump by approximately 80 percent this year, the first increase in a quarter century.

The Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990 allowed federal agencies to raise their penalties each year to account for inflation. However, OSHA and a handful of other agencies were exempted. A provision in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 that was signed by President Obama in November of last year essentially cancels that exemption, allowing OSHA to raise citation fines based on the cost of living increases that have occurred since 1990.

In addition to the one-time “catch-up” increase, which is around 80 percent and must fines19occur by August 1, OSHA will also be allowed to make annual cost-of-living increases in citation rates going forward. To put the increase in real terms, OSHA fines for a “serious” violation are going from $7,000 to $12,600 and “repeat” and “willful” violations are jumping from $70,000 to $126,000.

While this may seem like a huge increase, OSHA fines remain small compared to those issued by other agencies, like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

OSHA is also expected to approach inspections differently, focusing on quality over quantity, which means if a company is being inspected, they’re more likely to incur several penalties.

So how do you make sure you’re prepared for an OSHA inspection and don’t even have to worry about this increase? Know what regulations apply to your business and ensure you’re in compliance. Don’t wait for an inspector to come knocking – proactively identify any gaps and work to close them. Not only will you avoid fines, but you’ll ensure you’re conducting business in a safe and healthy environment.

Mark Greco
Commercial Account Executive



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