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OSHA Fines Increase

By Jordy Byrd

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Inflation has finally caught up with workplace penalties. President Barack Obama signed the Federal Budget Agreement bill on Nov. 2, which will increase OSHA fines – potentially by 80% – for the first time since 1990.

OSHA was exempt from the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990, which required most federal agencies like the EPA to raise their fines with inflation. Now OSHA must issue a final rule increasing penalties to catch up with inflation over the last 25 years.

If the agency applies maximum penalty increases, the fine for repeat and willful violations could increase from $70,000 to $125,000, and other severe violations from $7,000 to $12,500. After this initial phase, maximum penalties will increase annually, continuing to rise with inflation.

The agency has not made a public announcement on the legislation. A final rule is expected to be published by July 1, 2016 and fines will be enforced by that August.

Top Ten Violations for 2015

Fall protection violations remain the top violation on OSHA's Top Ten Violation List of 2015, followed by hazard communication, and scaffolding violations.