The Occupational Safety and Health Administration penalties for workplace safety and health violations have been substantially increased. Guidance recently published on OSHA’s website, OSHA Penalties Adjusted as of August 1, 2016, provides information on the penalty hike.
In November 2015, Congress enacted legislation requiring federal agencies to adjust their civil penalties to account for inflation. The Department of Labor is adjusting penalties for its agencies, including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
OSHA’s maximum penalties, which were last adjusted in 1990, have increased by 78%. Going forward, the agency will continue to adjust its penalties for inflation each year based on the Consumer Price Index.
The new penalties took effect as of August 2, 2016. Any citations issued by OSHA on or after that date will be subject to the new penalties if the related violations occurred after November 2, 2015.
Types of ViolationPrevious Maximum PenaltyNew Maximum Penalty
Serious $7,000 per violation $12,471 per violation
Failure to Abate $7,000 per day beyond the $12,471 per day beyond abatement date the abatement date
Willful or Repeated $70,000 per violation $124,709 per violation
Adjustments to Penalties
To provide guidance to field staff on the implementation of the new penalties, OSHA issued revisions to its Field Operations Manual. To address the impact of these penalty increases on smaller businesses, OSHA will continue to provide penalty reductions based on the size of the employer and other factors.
State Plan States
States that operate their own Occupational Safety and Health Plans are required to adopt maximum penalty levels that are at least as effective as Federal OSHA’s.