In the passage of last year’s Federal budget, a provision was included allowing OSHA to increase fines by approximately 78%, effective August 1, 2016. This dramatic increase in fines was described as a "catch-up" based upon the inflation rate from 1990, when they were last raised, to the present. The new provision also stated that going forward, OSHA fines will be raised each year based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Any citations issued by OSHA are subject to the new penalties if the related violations occurred after November 2, 2015.
OSHA Director, David Michaels, stated that "Unscrupulous employers often consider it more cost effective to pay the minimal OSHA penalty and continue to operate an unsafe workplace than to correct the underlying health and safety problem". OSHA feels that the extreme increase in penalty levels will make more employers "take notice" of the safety violations that may be present in their workplace and move to correct these hazards as soon as possible.
With the new fines now in place, serious citations increase from their current level of $7000 and move up to $12,740. Repeat and willful violations increase from the present range of $5000-$70,000 up to a range of $9,100-$127,400. For those states that operate their own Occupational Safety and Health Plans, all are required to adopt maximum penalty levels that are at least as effective as Federal OSHA's.
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