Increased Fines for OSHA Violations

Have you replaced your old OSHA poster yet?  The deadline for displaying the new posters was August 1, 2016.  New posters can be printed from OSHA’s website: https://www.osha.gov/Publications/poster.html

Also, new OSHA penalty adjustments went into effect on August 2, 2016, raising maximum penalties for violations by 78% from values last adjusted in 1990. The new penalties apply to violations occurring after November 2, 2015.  Below is a summary of the changes:

 

 Old MinimumNew MinimumOld MaximumNew Maximum
Serious Violation$0$0$7,000$12,471
Other Than Serious Violation$0$0$7,000$12,471
Willful or Repeated Violation$5,000$8,908$70,000$124,709
Posting Requirement Violation$0$0$7,000$12,471
Failure to Abate$0$0$7,000$12,471 (per day unabated)

 

Fines can vary depending on the gravity of the violation, the size of the employer’s business, good faith on the part of the employer, and any history of previous violations.  OSHA gives primary consideration to the gravity of the violation when assessing fines.  The new penalty values apply to civil penalties assessed on or after August 2, 2016, for violations that occurred after November 2, 2015.

This increase in fines could lead employers to consider contesting more violations, as the stakes rise and employers look to limit future exposure for repeat violations.

The increased fines for OSHA violations were included in two rules issued by the U.S. Department of Labor.  In addition to OSHA matters, fines for violations have also increased for the Employee Benefits Security Administration, the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs, the Wage and Hour Division, and Homeland Security regarding the H-2 temporary guest worker program.

The DOL rules were the result of the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015, which the President signed into law on November 2, 2015.  The stated goal of the Act is to improve the effectiveness of civil monetary penalties and to maintain their deterrent effect.  The Act required federal agencies to adjust their civil monetary penalties.

 

These materials have been prepared by Rudman Winchell for educational purposes only.  They should not be considered legal advice. The transmission of this information to you is not intended to create a lawyer-client relationship. Readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel.  You should not send any confidential or private information to Rudman Winchell until a formal attorney-client relationship has been established, in writing.