On June 30, the U.S. Department of Labor published an interim final rule to adjust civil penalty amounts for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The revised penalties were authorized by the passage of the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act in late 2015. The last revision to OSHA civil penalties came in 1990. The new law directs agencies, including OSHA, to adjust their penalties for inflation each year, and requires agencies to publish “catch up” rules this summer to address the period of time since the last revision.
OSHA’s maximum penalties will increase by 78 percent. The top penalty for serious violations will rise from $7,000 to $12,471. The maximum penalty for willful or repeated violations will increase from $70,000 to $124,709. The new method will adjust penalties for inflation, though the amount of the increase is capped at 150 percent of the existing penalty amount. The baseline is the last increase other than for inflation. The new civil penalty amounts are applicable only to civil penalties assessed after Aug. 1, 2016, whose associated violations occurred after Nov. 2, 2015. A factsheet on the new penalty structure can be found here.