OSHA penalties increase by 2 percent

OSHA has begun the New Year with penalty hikes.  Effective January 2, 2018, civil penalties for violations of OSHA standards and regulations increased 2%. The penalty increase applies to Federal OSHA states; however, states operating their own occupational safety and health programs are expected to introduce comparable penalty structures making them equally effective. Safety.BLR.com, Emily Scace, compares penalty structures and increases in the charts below.

 

 

Effective January 2, civil penalties for violations of workplace safety and health standards are 2 percent higher, with a new maximum fine of nearly $130,000. OSHA increased its penalties to adjust for inflation as required by the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 2015, which initially raised civil penalties by 78 percent after over 2 decades without a penalty increase and mandated annual adjustments by January 15 of each year.

The new penalty levels will apply to all violations occurring after November 2, 2015, with penalties assessed after January 2, 2018.

The following chart compares penalties in effect January 2, 2018, to the January 2017 levels:

Violation January 2017 penalty levels Penalties as of January 2, 2018
Any willful violation of OSHA rules or standards Minimum of $9,054 up to $126,749 Minimum of $9,239 up to $129,336
Any repeat violation of OSHA rules or standards Up to $126,749 Up to $129,336
Any serious violation of OSHA rules or standards Up to $12,675 Up to $12,934
Any OSHA violation deemed not serious Up to $12,675 Up to $12,934
Failure to correct a violation Up to $12,675 for each day the condition continues Up to $12,934 for each day the condition continues
Violation of posting requirements Up to $12,675 Up to $12,934

The penalty levels that employers face depend on when the violation(s) occur and when penalties are assessed. OSHA will use the following schedule to determine which penalty amounts apply in a given enforcement case:

Violations occurring Penalty assessed Which penalty level applies
On or before November 2, 2015 On or before August 1, 2016 Pre-August 1, 2016 levels
On or before November 2, 2015 After August 1, 2016 Pre-August 1, 2016 levels
After November 2, 2015 After August 1, 2016, but on or before January 13, 2017 August 1, 2016 levels
After November 2, 2015 After January 13, 2017, but on or before January 2, 2018 January 13, 2017 levels
After November 2, 2015 After January 2, 2018 January 2, 2018 levels

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