Department of Labor Publishes Updated Penalties for OSHA Violations

On Jan­u­ary 2, 2018, the U.S. Depart­ment of Labor (DOL) pub­lished updat­ed, infla­tion-adjust­ed penal­ties for vio­la­tions of var­i­ous laws reg­u­lat­ed by the DOL and its inter­nal com­po­nents or divi­sions, includ­ing the Occu­pa­tion­al Health and Safe­ty Admin­is­tra­tion (OSHA). The DOL is required to adjust the lev­el of civ­il mon­e­tary penal­ties for infla­tion by Jan­u­ary 15 each year pur­suant to the Fed­er­al Civ­il Penal­ties Infla­tion Adjust­ment Act of 1990, as amend­ed by the Fed­er­al Civ­il Penal­ties Infla­tion Adjust­ment Act Improve­ments Act of 2015 (Infla­tion Adjust­ment Act).

Because of the Infla­tion Adjust­ment Act, rates for OSHA penal­ties have increased three times in the last 17 months (August 1, 2016, Jan­u­ary 13, 2017, and Jan­u­ary 2, 2018). There­fore, for vio­la­tions occur­ring after Novem­ber 2, 2015, the penal­ty amounts incurred by employ­ers will depend on when the penal­ty is assessed, as follows:

  • If the penal­ty was assessed after August 1, 2016 but on or before Jan­u­ary 13, 2017, then the August 1, 2016 penal­ty lev­el applies.
  • If the penal­ty was assessed after Jan­u­ary 13, 2017 but on or before Jan­u­ary 2, 2018, then the Jan­u­ary 13, 2017 penal­ty lev­el applies.
  • If the penal­ty was assessed after Jan­u­ary 2, 2018, then the cur­rent penal­ty lev­el applies.

The applic­a­ble Jan­u­ary 2, 2018 penal­ty lev­els for vio­la­tions of the Occu­pa­tion­al Safe­ty and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) are as follows:

  • Will­ful vio­la­tions: $9,239 – 129,936 (up from $9,054 – $126,749 after Jan­u­ary 13, 2017 and $8,908 – $124,709 after August 1, 2016)
  • Repeat­ed vio­la­tions: $129,936 (up from $126,749 after Jan­u­ary 13, 2017 and $124,709 after August 1, 2016)
  • Seri­ous vio­la­tions: $12,934 (up from $12,675 after Jan­u­ary 13, 2017 and $12,471 after August 1, 2016)
  • Oth­er-than-seri­ous vio­la­tions: $12,934 (up from $12,675 after Jan­u­ary 13, 2017 and $12,471 after August 1, 2016)
  • Fail­ure to cor­rect vio­la­tions: $12,934 (up from $12,675 after Jan­u­ary 13, 2017 and $12,471 after August 1, 2016)
  • Post­ing require­ment vio­la­tions: $12,934 (up from $12,675 after Jan­u­ary 13, 2017 and $12,471 after August 1, 2016)

These increas­es apply to states with fed­er­al OSHA pro­grams and states with OSHA-approved state plans. Vio­la­tions occur­ring on or before Novem­ber 2, 2015 are assessed at pre-August 1, 2016 levels.

Employ­ers are encour­aged to famil­iar­ize them­selves with these increased penal­ties and con­sult coun­sel if they have ques­tions about the penal­ty lev­el applic­a­ble to a poten­tial violation.

By Nicole Quinn-Gato

Orig­i­nal­ly pub­lished by www.ThinkHR.com