Safety and OSHA News

It’s official: OSHA releases new maximum fine amounts

The new maximum amounts for OSHA fines will be: 

  • $12,471 for a serious violation, up from $7,000
  • $124,709 for a repeat or willful violation, up from $70,000, and
  • $12,471 per day for failure-to-abate, up from $7,000.

That’s a 78.2% increase.

OSHA chief David Michaels showed a slide in his presentation at the American Society of Safety Engineers’ 2016 conference in Atlanta with the new fine amounts.

These are the amounts we expected based on a previous federal government document that was released in April.

Last fall, Congress passed a federal budget that allowed OSHA to have a one-time large increase in its maximum fines to catch up for inflation since penalties for occupational safety and health infractions hadn’t increased since 1990.

Also, the maximum fines will increase every year now based on inflation. Such is the case for many other federal agencies.

Michaels said at Safety 2016 that OSHA would make an official announcement about the new maximum fines during the week of July 4.

Facilities that have been inspected by federal OSHA in February or later this year may be in for an unpleasant surprise if their inspection results in fines.

The new amounts take effect Aug. 1, 2016. So any penalties issued on or after that date are subject to the new, larger maximums, even if the inspection occurred before Aug. 1. Since OSHA inspections typically take 5-6 months, companies visited anytime after Jan. 31, 2016 could be the first to receive penalties based on the new maximums.

OSHA will continue to provide a reduction in fines for small companies. The reduction percentage will remain the same, so small businesses will also see higher OSHA fines.

States with their own OSHA will have to enact penalty increases that are at least as much as federal OSHA. There will be some lag time for so-called state-plan states to put those increases into effect.

Michaels noted that, compared to fines from other federal agencies, OSHA’s are relatively small. He pointed to a headline, “Amazon fined almost nothing for failing to report workplace injuries.” The warehouse giant received a maximum $7,000 for its infraction.

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