OSHA fines could increase by 80 percent

OSHA fines will increase for the first time in a quarter century, under a provision in the recently signed congressional budget deal.

The Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990 exempted OSHA from increasing its penalties to account for inflation. The new budget, signed into law on Nov. 2 by President Barack Obama, contains an amendment that strikes the exemption.

Now, OSHA is directed to issue an interim final rule increasing its penalties to account for current inflation levels, which would raise proposed fines by about 80 percent. This would mean the maximum penalty for a willful violation would rise to about $127,000 from the current $70,000. The adjustment must occur before Aug. 1, 2016. In subsequent years, OSHA also will be allowed – for the first time – to adjust its penalties levels based on inflation.

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