Two meaningful developments have transpired in the Occupational Safety & Health realm. First, the fines for violations have been adjusted for inflation and significantly increased. Second, employers may now report fatalities and other serious injuries online.
In November, legislation was passed that provided for increased fines for OSHA violations. The increase was intended to account for inflation since the last time the amounts were raised in 1990. The statute says the amount of the increase should be measured by comparing the Consumer Price Index in 1990 to the Consumer Price Index in 2015. That means the maximum amount of the fine for “Serious” violations will increase from $7,000 to $12,500, and the maximum amount for “Repeat” or “Willful” violations will increase from $70,000 to $120,000. The statute also provides for annual increases going-forward based on inflation.
OSHA also activated its online reporting website. Employers have always been required to report an on-the-job fatality within 8 hours, and injuries involving in-patient hospitalization, loss of an eye, or amputation within 24 hours. In the past, notification was typically done by calling the regional OSHA office or faxing in a letter. Employers can now report such injuries online at https www.osha.gov/report.html.