OSHA Penalties to Increase 80% in 2016

Osha Inspection

Effective Aug. 1, 2016, OSHA civil monetary penalties are set to increase approximately 80% after passage of the Federal government’s bipartisan budget bill. The bill allows OSHA to issue a “catch up adjustment”, based on the increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) from 1990 (the date of the last penalty increase) to the present.

Assuming an 80% increase, the monetary penalties for OSHA violations cited will be:

         Other Than Serious - $12,600 (increased from $7,000)

          Serious - $12, 600 (increased from $7,000)

          Repeat - $126,000 (increased from $70,000)

          Willful - $126,000 (increased from $70,000) plus possible jail time

However, the initial “catch up adjustment” could be much more than the expected 80%. The Act sets the “maximum adjustment” at 150% of the new penalty structure. In addition, the budget bill requires OSHA to annually increase the monetary penalties based on the percentage increase of the CPI.

The dramatic increase is further evidence of OSHA’s intent to increase enforcement and punish perceived “bad employers”. As OSHA chief David Michaels has said, “Unscrupulous employers often consider it more cost effective to pay the minimal OSHA penalty and continue to operate an unsafe workplace”.

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