The Department of Labor this month raised civil penalties for violations of OSHA workplace safety regulations to match inflation for 2018.
In the past, OSHA was forbidden from raising its civil penalties under the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Act of 1990. That changed when Congress passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, which allowed more agencies, including OSHA, to raise penalties to match inflation.
In June, OSHA updated its penalties with a one-time “catch-up” adjustment, inflating the fines for work safety violations by nearly 80%.
Penalties for serious or other-than-serious violations rose from $7,000 to $12,471, and the penalty for willful or repeated violations rose from $70,000 to $124,709.
The 2018 adjustment is less eye-catching. Penalties for violations of 29 CFR 1903 safety standards will, in general, rise by about 2%. The new maximum penalty for serious or other-than-serious violations is $12,934, and the maximum penalty for willful or repeated violations rose to $129,336.
How Do Bigger OSHA Fines Affect My State?
In the US, states have one of three “plans” in place for dealing with Federal OSHA regulations:
- “No Plan”: States with no plan in place rely on Federal OSHA to carry out inspections and assess fines. In states with no plan, the increased penalty amounts will be in effect immediately.
- “Full State Plan”: States with a full State plan in place are authorized to oversee their own work safety programs—including inspections, outreach, and enforcement. States will full plans must adjust civil penalties to match Federal OSHA within 6 months to maintain authorization (and 50% funding).
- “Partial State Plan”: States with a partial State plan are those that only cover public employees. In these states, Federal OSHA oversees safety enforcement at private employers. Therefore, the new Federal penalty amounts will take effect for private employers immediately.
To see how changing OSHA penalties affect enforcement of safety regulations in your state—or to see what kind of plan your state has in place—read: How Bigger OSHA Fines Affect Your State
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