Legislators in Oregon have approved a bill that would raise fines issued by the state’s OSHA to between $50,000 and $250,000 for willful or repeat violations leading to an employee’s death.
The maximum fine issued for willful or repeat violations that do not involve an employee’s death will match federal OSHA’s maximum fine of $156,259.
Senate Bill 592A was approved May 22 and is expected to be signed by Governor Tina Kotek. The bill will take effect immediately once it is signed into law.
Lowest fines in U.S. raised by more than 1000%
The bill is meant to raise Oregon OSHA’s minimum and maximum fines across the board “in some cases by more than 1000% to align with federal OSHA,” according to The Oregonian. The state agency issued some of the lowest fines in the nation for safety violations with the minimum fine for a serious violation set at only $100.
The U.S. Department of Labor found that Oregon OSHA issued an average penalty of $620 for serious violations during the 2021 fiscal year, which is more than 73% below the federal range of $2,325 to $3,875.
All penalties now match or exceed federal standards
SB 592A will require Oregon OSHA to issue fines between $1,116 and $15,625 for serious violations. Fines for willful or repeat violations will range from $11,162 and $156,259.
Serious violations that lead to an employee’s death will involve a fine of $20,000 to $50,000, which will increase to between $50,000 and $250,000 for willful or repeat violations that lead to an employee’s death.
An analysis of Oregon OSHA data conducted by The Oregonian revealed that the state agency “issued an average fine of about $3,700 over the previous five years in such cases.”