On June 30, 2016, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced an adjustment to civil penalty amounts provided for violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) or corresponding OSHA standards and regulations. The increased civil penalties are the direct result of a provision in the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act (2015 Inflation Adjustment Act), which (1) directed OSHA to modify its penalties to account for inflation through a “catch up” adjustment, and (2) established a method for increasing penalty amounts based on changes in the Consumer Price Index.

As OSHA’s penalties have not been adjusted since 1990, the 2015 Inflation Adjustment Act gave OSHA authority to increase its penalties to adjust for inflation. Congress required OSHA, and other affected Federal agencies, to enact an interim final rule, phasing in the new penalty structure. In June the Department of Labor (DOL) published its interim final rule adjusting OSHA's civil penalties. Under the DOL’s interim final rule, OSHA’s civil penalties will increase by 78%, with its top penalty for all violations other than willful or repeat violations rising from $7,000 to $12,471 and its willful or repeated violation penalties increasing from $70,000 to $124,709.

The new penalty structure goes into effect on August 1, 2016 and will apply to all penalties assessed after that date.