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OSHA Civil Penalties Will Continue to Increase

The U.S. Department of Labor publishes the final rules for civil monetary penalties that can be assessed or enforced by various government agencies.  The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s civil penalties are adjusted each year according to the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990 as amended by the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015 (Inflation Adjustment Act).  This Inflation Adjustment Act requires the U.S. Department of Labor to annually adjust its civil money penalty levels for inflation no later than January 15th of each year.

OSHA Civil Penalties

A statement published by an OSHA official regarding their support for these adjustments indicate that “Adjusting  our penalties to keep pace with the cost of living can lead to significant benefits for workers and can level the playing field responsible employers who should not have to compete with those who don't follow the law."  OSHA anticipates also that these increases will be a credible deterrent for employers who don’t abide by the health and safety standards.

The rules published under the 2015 law modernized the 1990 penalties and resulted in an increase of 78%.  The top penalty for serious violation rose from $7,000 to $12,471.  The maximum penalty for willful or repeated violations increased from $70,000 to $124,709.

Under the 2018 rule, the maximum OSHA civil penalties compare to the 2017 penalties as follows:

Type of Violation

2017 Penalties

2018 Penalties

Other than Serious violations:

$12,675

$12,934

Serious violations:

$12,675

$12,934

Posting violations:

$12,675

$12,675

Repeat violations:

$126,749

$129,336

Willful violations:

$126,749

$129,336

Failure to abate (per day):

$12,675

$12,934

Civil penalties will be adjusted according to inflation every year and are required to be adjusted by January 15th of each year. 

Since there are currently 28 states with State OSHA Plans, OSHA requires the states that operate their own Occupational Safety and Health Plans to adopt maximum penalty levels that are at least as effective as Federal OSHA's.

Please visit www.safelinkconsulting.com for more information on how you can avoid these rising OSHA penalties.

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