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|