OSHA's Maximum Penalties for Violations to Increase by 78 Percent

Published July 6, 2016

​Under a new interim final rule announced by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), OSHA’s maximum civil penalties will increase by 78 percent, effective Aug. 1, 2016. The adjustments stem from legislation enacted by Congress in November that requires federal agencies to adjust their civil penalties to account for inflation. The law also directs agencies to publish “catch-up” rules to make up for lost time since the penalties were last adjusted. According to DOL’s press release, OSHA’s maximum penalties have not been raised since 1990.

OSHA’s maximum penalty for serious violations will increase from $7,000 to $12,471, and the maximum penalty for willful or repeated violations will increase from $70,000 to $124,709 per violation. The agency’s maximum penalty for failure to abate violations will rise from $7,000 to $12,471 per day beyond the abatement date. In the future, OSHA will adjust its penalties for inflation annually based on the Consumer Price Index.

“Civil penalties should be a credible deterrent that influences behavior far and wide,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “Adjusting our penalties to keep pace with the cost of living can lead to significant benefits for workers and can level the playing field for responsible employers, who should not have to compete with those who don’t follow the law.”

According to OSHA’s website, the agency will address the impact of these penalty increases on smaller businesses by continuing to provide penalty reductions based on the size of the employer and other factors.

For more information, see DOL’s press release or visit OSHA’s website.