For the first time since 1990, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will increase its fines to reflect inflation. For willful and repeat citations, this will mean an increase in the maximum possible penalty from $70,000 to around $125,000. For serious citations, it will mean an increase in the maximum possible penalty from $7,000 to around $12,600. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, signed into law by President Obama on November 2, allows OSHA a one time “initial adjustment” for inflation and then allows OSHA to adjust for inflation annually after that.
OSHA penalties are calculated from a number of factors including severity of the alleged violation, the likelihood of injury, the size of the employer, and the employee’s demonstrated good faith efforts to comply. This significant increase in the maximum allowable OSHA penalties is a good reason for all companies to revisit their programs for OSHA compliance and their safety policies.