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OSHA Fines to Jump in August

Thursday, July 14, 2016

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Starting next month, companies found to be in violation of workplace safety rules in the United States will face fines nearly double what they would have paid previously.

Last November, Congress passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, which included a “catch-up adjustment” in maximum fines for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in 2016. OSHA fines had previously not changed since 1990.

78 Percent Jump

OSHA has since announced that maximum civil penalties will increase by 78 percent. Previously, the maximum penalty for a “serious” violation was $7,000; that will increase to $12,471. The top fine for a “willful” or “repeat” violation will jump from $70,000 to $124,709.

Monetary fine
© / DNY59

The top OSHA fine for a “willful” or “repeat” violation will jump from $70,000 to $124,709.

After this one-time “catch-up” measure to make up for more than 25 years of inflation, OSHA has been directed to revise its fines annually, to avoid such a radical adjustment in the future.

The rate adjustments will apply to penalties the administration hands down after Aug. 1, applying to violations uncovered after Nov. 2, 2015.

Other Fine Increases

In addition to hiking the standard OSHA violation penalties, the Department of Labor announced it will more than double the penalty for failure to report termination of payments made under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, from $110 to $275. That fine, the Department notes, had only increased $10 in the past 89 years.

Labor Sec. Thomas Perez
U.S. Department of Labor

“Civil penalties should be a credible deterrent that influences behavior far and wide,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez.

The Wage and Hour Division of the DOL will also increase its penalty for willful violations of the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, from $1,100 to $1,894.

The Department of Labor notes that the increase is necessary to ensure that fines are a deterrent to unsafe practices.

“Civil penalties should be a credible deterrent that influences behavior far and wide,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “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.”


Tagged categories: Department of Labor; Enforcement; Good Technical Practice; Health and safety; North America; OSHA; Violations

Comment from Jesse Melton, (7/14/2016, 8:25 AM)

You wonder how much money and time went into calculating the wonky fine amounts. They could accelerate the time needed to begin investigation of complaints if they focused on that, instead of internal accounting voodoo.

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (7/18/2016, 11:37 AM)

Jesse - once set up, it should take all of 5 minutes in Excel. Take the fines, multiply by whatever inflation was last year. Done. Do the same every year.

Comment from M. Halliwell, (7/19/2016, 10:39 AM)

Easier solution is to be in compliance so you don't have to worry about fines in the first place.

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