January 21, 2021

OSHA’s New Employer Penalty Plan Now in Effect

OSHA has implemented a new initiative intended to improve the collection of citation penalties. Effective since Dec. 23, 2020, the agency will now send a series of three letters to establishments delinquent on paying the financial penalty leveled at those who receive a citation during an OSHA workplace inspection. The three letters will be sent seven, 30, and 60 days after the payment comes due. OSHA will also contact establishments by phone 14 days after the due date.

Establishments that fail to pay the penalty and are not on an affordable payment plan will be placed on a priority list for further inspection. In addition, OSHA will now collect employer identification numbers prior to inspecting an establishment.

According to OSHA, this new procedure is intended to boost the effectiveness of the agency’s enforcement abilities by increasing the likelihood that employers who receive citations pay their penalties promptly. Moreover, the final rule is part of a broader effort to improve debt collection across the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). The department’s Office of the Chief Financial Officer (OCFO), after a review of enforcement agency debt collection practices, determined that agencies are more likely to receive penalty payments if letters demanding payment are sent out at intervals of fewer than 30 days from initial notification. OCFO also noted that agencies that sent out notifications more frequently have higher collection rates, but heads of DOL agencies are left to do so at their own discretion. The new procedure also allows for outstanding debts to be more quickly referred to the Department of Justice, if necessary.

For more information, refer to OSHA’s press release regarding the rule. The full text of the final rule, which includes additional context regarding its implementation, is available from the Federal Register.