Late last week, while everyone was focused on the summer holiday, the Department of Labor announced that pursuant to the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvement Act, OSHA’s maximum penalties, which have not been raised since 1990, will increase by 78 percent. This will increase the “serious”, “other-than-serious” and “posting requirements” penalty from $7,000 to $12,471 per violation, the failure to abate from $7,000 per day beyond abatement date to $12,471 per day beyond abatement date, and increase the maximum penalty for willful or repeated violations from $70,000 to $124,709. These figures can drastically hinder any business, let alone any start-ups or craft-beverage producers.
Further, individuals in one of the 25 states (or the Virgin Islands or Puerto Rico) who have OSHA-approved State Plans should also expect an increase in state fines as well, as under those plans the state penalties must be at least as effective as federal OSHA penalties. States with OSHA-approved State Plans include: Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming.
OSHA will take public comment on the rule until August 15, 2016, but the new levels are effective August 1, 2016. The new levels will affect ongoing investigations if the violation occurred after November 2, 2015 and the citation is issued on or after August 1, 2016.