Earlier this month, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) increased fines for OSHA violations of safety regulations. Effective August 1, 2016, the increases are the first implemented by the Administration since 1990. The maximum penalties increased by 78 percent and will be adjusted annually by OSHA based on changes in the Consumer Price Index.
The U.S. Congress adjusted the fines in a one-time catch-up adjustment for inflation for the first time since 1990 as part of the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015. OSHA previously was exempted from a law that required federal agencies to raise their fines to keep up with inflation. The fiscal year 2016 budget agreement eliminated that exemption.
The changes mean that OSHA can attach the new amounts to any citation issued after August 2, 2016, even for alleged violations that occurred prior to this date. The agency said it will continue its practice of reducing the amounts based on the size of an employer and other factors to address the impact of these increases on smaller businesses.
According to OSHA's website, the new penalties are as follows:
|Type of Violation||Current Maximum Penalty||New Maximum Penalty|
|$7,000 per violation||$12,471 per violation|
|Failure to Abate||$7,000 per day beyond the abatement date||$12,471 per day beyond the abatement date|
|Willful or Repeated||$70,000 per violation||$124,709 per violation|
Note: States that operate their own OSHA-approved job safety and health programs must enact the maximum penalty levels that have the same impact as the federal penalties. The federal agency provides up to 50 percent of the funding for these programs, which must be at least as effective as their federal counterpart.
California Employment Law
OSHA offers services for employers looking for compliance assistance. OSHA's On-site Consultation Program provides professional, individualized assistance to small businesses at no cost. OSHA also has compliance assistance specialists in Area Offices across the country.
If you're in California and have questions about OSHA's rules, workplace safety, or related California employment laws, don't hesitate to contact leading employment lawyers from Kingsley & Kingsley. Call us toll-free at (888) 500-8469 or contact our employment law office via email regarding your case.