For the first time in 25 years the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will be raising their maximum fines for many of their severe citations. This comes as a shock to occupational safety personnel from all industries due to OSHAs exemption from raising its fines to account for inflation in the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990. Fines could be raised by as much as 80 percent due to the new budget passed by the Senate and the House, which was recently signed by President Obama. Although the exact amount of the increase is yet unknown, the current estimates are as follows:
Less Serious Violations
The increase will take great strides to bring the penalties up to date with the inflation rates since 1990, and will continue to keep fines in line as the rates continue to rise in the future. OSHA’s fines have always been considered to very low in comparison to the penalties dealt by other regulatory agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Although the previous maximum fines were significant for small businesses, many larger companies consider it to be “a cost of doing business.”
Many believe that the raise in fines will finally bring the penalties for OSHA violations up to date and improve the enforcement of OSHA standards. Some industry representatives claim that the proposed increase will negatively impact small business and plan to contest the higher fines. Budget changes take effect on July 1, 2016 with new penalties being implemented in August of 2016.