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OSHA fines increasing by 78 percent for inflation adjustment

The Department of Labor has announced a 78 percent increase in penalties for Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) violations, effective Aug. 1.

The increase in fines stems from a Congressional directive passed in November 2015 that requires agencies to publish “catch-up” rules to make up for inflation. The increase for OSHA’s penalties is the first since 1990.

The Department of Labor said the new law, dubbed the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015, improves “the effectiveness of civil monetary penalties” and maintains “their deterrent effect.” The law requires this one-time initial “catch-up” adjustment, then subsequent annual inflation adjustments. For the first time since a 1990 law, OSHA will be allowed to update its fines annually.

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The new fines are as follows:

  • Penalties for serious violations, other-than-serious violations, posting requirement violations and failure to correct violations will increase from $7,000 to $12,471
  • Maximum penalties for willful or repeated violations will increase from $70,000 to $124,471.
  • Minimum penalties for willful or repeated violations will increase from $5,000 to $8,908.

“These penalty increases will also deter violations, which will provide a significant benefit not only for workers but also for responsible employers who will have a more level playing field when competing with employers who are not following the law,” the Department of Labor said in a fact sheet on the rules.

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Matt Cole is an Associate Editor for CCJ and Overdrive. Reach him at mattcole@randallreilly.com.