OSHA Dramatically Increases Penalties
By: Gary Jones, Assistant VP EHS Affairs, Printing Industries of America; Kaitlin Mackey, EHS Associate, Printing Industries of America; Matthew Crownover, EHS Associate, Printing Industries of America
On July 1, 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released its interim final rule, increasing the civil penalties for violations of its standards. The increase was required due to the passage of the two-year bipartisan budget President Obama signed on November 2, 2015.
This is the first time in 25 years that OSHA has increased its penalties. Since 1990, OSHA has been one of only three federal agencies that were specifically exempt from a law that required federal agencies to raise their fines to keep pace with inflation. The bill allows OSHA to have a one-time adjustment this year to catch up from the last time the agency’s civil penalties were modified. In addition, the law allows the penalties to be increased each year.
OSHA’s New Penalties
The required initial penalty “catch-up adjustment” was tied to the percentage difference between the October 2015 Consumer Price Index (CPI) and the October 1990 CPI. This inflation adjustment factor for this period worked out to be 78.16 percent.
The new penalties will become effective on August 1, 2016, and the maximum penalties for workplace safety violations issued by OSHA will be as follows:
|Violation Type||Existing Penalty||New Penalty|
|Violation of a posting requirement||$7,000||$12,471|
|Violation of a reporting requirement||$7,000||$12,471|
Due to the new law, the rounding down to the nearest $1,000 has been eliminated. The new law eliminated the rounding rules so penalties are now rounded to the nearest dollar.