Maximum Workplace Safety Fines Increase Again
For a second consecutive year, maximum fines for Department of Labor safety and health agencies has increased, to keep pace with inflation. The 1.02 percent increase is in line with the Consumer Price Index inflation rate as of October 2017. OSHA made the announcement earlier this month.
The higher fines are now effective, following the mandate of a 2015 law requiring the department to annually raise fines starting in 2017. Prior to the law, Occupational Safety and Health Administration fines hadn't increased since 1990.
The 28 states and territories with their own workplace safety and health agencies are expected to follow the federal government's lead and raise their fines. OSHA has allowed states to take their time adopting past increases, because some states requires approval of the state's legislature, or a rule-making board that meets infrequently, to raise fines.
The new maximum OSHA penalties are:
- Repeat: $129,336, up from $126,749
- Willful: $129,336, up from $126,749
- Serious: $12,934, up from $12,675
- Other-than-serious: $12,934, up from $12,675
Most employers won't face having to pay OSHA fines close to the new maximums because fines are based on several factors such as the severity of the hazard posed to workers and the number of employees at the business. For example, according to OSHA data in fiscal year 2017 the average serious fine was $3,553, about 28 percent of the former penalty cap.