Safety and OSHA News

OSHA fines go up again — but much less than last time

Maximum OSHA fines are increasing for the second time in a year. 

The U.S. Department of Labor announced the increases which take effect with any citations issued after Jan. 13, 2017, even if the inspection occurred on an earlier date.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • maximum repeat and willful: $126,749 (was $124,709)
  • maximum serious and other-than-serious: $12,675 (was $12,471), and
  • minimum for willful: $9,054 (was $8,908).

The increase is 1.64%, the annual U.S. inflation rate calculated in October 2016.

OSHA fines went up in August 2016 as part of a budget bill that allowed the increases for the first time since 1990. That increase was 78%. The same bill allows for annual inflationary increases at the discretion of OSHA.

Fines add up

With one repeat or willful fine potentially carrying a six-figure fine, it’s easy to see how penalties add up quickly.

Since the start of the 2017 federal fiscal year in October 2016, there have already been several significant enforcement cases (where initial penalties exceeded $180,000) issued by OSHA.

Some of the cases include penalties totaling more than a half-million dollars:

  • BigTex Trailer Manufacturing Inc. (dba CM Truck Beds), Kingston, OK, was fined $535,411 for three repeat, one willful and 20 serious violations, including lack of respirator fit tests for employees, and
  • Prinz Grain & Feed, West Point, NE, was fined $525,633 for 3 willful, 15 serious and two other-than-serious violations, after an employee was engulfed by grain and died two days later from his injuries.

Besides fatalities, OSHA initiated these significant enforcement cases for a variety of reasons, including employee complaints, referrals from other government agencies, and OSHA emphasis programs that address hazards or industries that pose a particular risk to workers.

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