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OSHA ALERT: Happy New Year - OSHA Penalties Increase

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Effective immediately, the U.S. Department of Labor raised Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) penalties by 2%.  In a notice published in the Federal Register on Tuesday, January 2, 2018 (Vol. 83, No. 1).  DOL said it was increasing 2018 penalties to comply with the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015 (Inflation Adjustment Act), which requires certain divisions of DOL to keep monetary civil fines in step with the rate of inflation. The modifications must be made by Jan. 15 of each year. 

The maximum OSHA penalties now will be $12,934 for other-than-serious and serious violations, and $129,336 for repeat and willful violations. State OSHA programs are likely to follow suit and raise their fines as well. 

This is a very modest increase compared with other recent penalty hikes.  In August 2016, DOL raised OSHA fines by 78%, the first increase since 1990. That change was mandated by the 2016 budget bill, which required the agency to bring its penalty levels in line with the Consumer Price Index and be adjusted accordingly every year thereafter.

The prospect of higher fines, by itself, is unlikely to affect employer behavior, although it does emphasize the value of compliance.

Happy New Year from OSHA!

Questions?  Need more information?  Call Larry Stine at (404)365-0900.

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