Posted July 20, 2016

Higher OSHA fines kick in August 1

Maximum penalties will go up 78 percent. 

OSHA is enacting its first major fine increase since 1990 and it's a whopper. And it goes into effect on August 1. Some new fines will actually be retroactive to November, 2015 if the violations occurred after November 2, 2015.

To help contractors avoid violation penalties, distributors should proactively help them review their safety guidelines, procedures and equipment/PPE inventories. 

In November 2015, Congress enacted legislation requiring federal agencies to adjust their civil penalties to account for inflation. The Department of Labor is adjusting penalties for its agencies, including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

OSHA's maximum penalties, which were last adjusted in 1990, will increase by 78%. Going forward, the agency will continue to adjust its penalties for inflation each year based on the Consumer Price Index.

The new penalties will take effect after August 1, 2016. Any citations issued by OSHA after that date will be subject to the new penalties if the related violations occurred after November 2, 2015.

Type of Violation  Current Maximum Penalty New Maximum Penalty
  • Serious
  • Other-Than-Serious
  • Posting Requirements
$7,000 per violation $12,471 per violation
Failure to Abate $7,000 per day beyond the abatement date $12,471 per day beyond the abatement date
Willful or Repeated $70,000 per violation $124,709 per violation

Adjustments to Penalties

To provide guidance to field staff on the implementation of the new penalties, OSHA will issue revisions to its Field Operations Manual by August 1. To address the impact of these penalty increases on smaller businesses, OSHA will continue to provide penalty reductions based on the size of the employer and other factors.

State Plan States

States that operate their own Occupational Safety and Health Plans are required to adopt maximum penalty levels that are at least as effective as Federal OSHA's.

For More Assistance

OSHA offers a variety of options for employers looking for compliance assistance.

The On-site Consultation Program provides professional, high-quality, individualized assistance to small businesses at no cost.

OSHA also has compliance assistance specialists in most of our 85 Area Offices across the nation who provide robust outreach and education programs for employers and workers.

For more information, please contact the Regional or Area Office nearest you.