Backed by more solid majorities in the House and Senate, Democrats have reintroduced the Protecting America’s Workers Act which aims to expand OSHA’s reach and increase the penalties it can issue for safety and health violations.
The bill (H.R. 2067) would expand OSHA’s jurisdiction to public employees, including federal, state and local government workers.
Whistleblowers would also get more protection.
But some of the biggest changes would be made to penalties OSHA could issue:
- Fines for willful and repeat citations would increase, with the minimum changing from $5,000 to $8,000 and the maximum from $70,000 to $120,000.
- The maximum fine for serious, failure-to-abate and other-than-serious citations would increase from $7,000 to $12,000.
- The maximum for violations of posting requirements would also increase from $7,000 to $12,000.
- If a violation causes the death of an employee, civil penalty amounts can range from $50,000 to $250,000, with $25,000 as the minimum for smaller companies with 25 or fewer employees.
- OSHA could also pursue criminal charges against a company for an employee’s death, including fines and up to ten years in prison for owners and managers. Criminal penalties for serious bodily injury to an employee could include up to five years in prison.
The bill would also increase OSHA fines every four years for inflation.