The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published an interim final rule on July 1, 2016, that increases the maximum penalties for citations by more than 75 percent. This is the first increase in OSHA penalties since 1990. Why now, you ask? Well, in November 2015 the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015 (a pithily titled portion of the budget bill) eliminated a long-standing exemption for OSHA that permitted it to not increase fines to keep pace with inflation. Under the act, federal agencies must adjust penalties based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Because the difference between the 1990 CPI and the current CPI is 78 percent and change, all of OSHA’s penalties will increase by 78 percent and change effective no later than August 1, 2016. If you have facilities in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, or one of the 25 states that have OSHA-approved State Plans, expect increases in those fines as well because a State Plan’s penalties must be at least as effective as federal OSHA penalties.
Although OSHA will be taking public comments on this final rule until August 15, 2016, the new levels are effective August 1, 2016. The DOL has posted a helpful chart comparing the new penalties:
|Type of Violation||Current Maximum Penalty||New Maximum Penalty|
|$7,000 per violation||$12,471 per violation|
|Failure to Abate||$7,000 per day beyond abatement date||$12,471 per day beyond abatement date|
|Willful or Repeated||$70,000 per violation||$124,709 per violation|
Do these effect ongoing investigations? Yes. According to the DOL website, if the violations occurred after November 2, 2015, and the citation is issued on or after August 1, 2016, the new penalties apply.
So get your safety audits done before August 1 and make sure you keep them up to date.