Just when you were getting used to the new levels of fines from OSHA, they’ve increased again. The Federal Register just published new fines for the Department of Labor, including new fines for OSHA. The fines for willful violations will increase 1.64%, from $124,709 to $126,749, while the maximum penalty for most citations will go from $12,471 to $12,675.
The previous increase, which went into effect in August 2016, was from $70,000 and $7,000 maximums. The whopping 78% increase was to make up for decades of stagnant penalty limits. These increases were required by the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act, and will now occur annually.
The new OSHA fines are listed in §26, near the end of the January 18, 2017 publication. The Code of Federal Regulations has not been updated yet, so if you go to 29 CFR 1903.15(d), you’ll still find the maximum penalties from August.
The new maximums are effective retroactively to January 13, 2017. Any violation that occurred on or before November 2, 2015 is limited to the penalty maximums in place before August 1, 2016. Any violation that occurred after November 2, 2015 will be subject to the new maximums if the penalty has not already been assessed.
Those in jurisdictions with state OSHA programs may also see increased maximums. State OSHA programs are required to be at least as effective as the Federal OSHA. Among other things, that means that fines have to be at least as high, although they may be higher. If your state was at the previous Federal OSHA maximums, it must now increase to the new maximums.
Obviously, none of this matters if you are never out of compliance with OSHA’s regulations, or if OSHA never arrives to conduct an inspection. Good luck with that!