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OSHA Fines to Increase
Maximum Penalties Have Not Been Raised Since 1990


Penalties assessed by the U.S. Department of Labor's Employee Benefits Security Administration, Mine Safety and Health Administration, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Office of Workers' Compensation Programs, and Wage and Hour Division are being adjusted for inflation.

As of August 1, 2016, any civil penalties leveled by the Occupational, Safety and Health Administration on violations that occurred after November 2, 2015 will be subject to new maximum amounts - $12,471 for serious violations and $124,709 for willful or repeated violations - both representing a 78 percent increase.

The agency upped these penalties in response to the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act passed by Congress in 2015, which allows for increases in civil monetary fines to help them be effective preventative tools. The new law requires agencies to adjust their penalties to account for inflation since the last time they were raised, which in this case was 1990.

"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."

The new law also calls for agencies to adjust their penalties for inflation yearly, capping the amount to an increase of 150 percent of the existing amount.

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July 17, 2019, 8:30 pm PDT

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