On November 2, 2015, Congress passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. That Act required certain federal agencies, like OSHA, to adjust their civil money penalties based on inflation. Congress directed that the updated penalty amounts apply to all penalties proposed or assessed after August 1, 2016. OSHA will adjust its penalties annually thereafter by January 15 based on the Consumer Price Index. The last time OSHA raised its citation penalties was in 1990.

On June 30, 2016, OSHA announced that the amount of the new maximum penalties for violations of OSHA Standards will be increased by 78 percent. The new maximum penalty levels for all penalties proposed or assessed after August 1, 2016, will be:

Other than Serious violations: $12,471 (currently $7,000)
Serious violations: $12,471 (currently $7,000)
Willful violations: $124,709 (currently $70,000)
Repeat violations: $124,709 (currently $70,000)

State Plan OSHA programs will also adopt new penalties at least the same as the increased federal OSHA penalties, since OSHA-approved State Plans must have penalties “at least as effective” as the federal penalties. The new penalty levels will apply prospectively only to new and pending OSHA inspections.

Employers are advised to remain vigilant with respect to their compliance with OSHA requirements and their efforts regarding employee safety and health, as OSHA violations now will result in even higher monetary penalties.