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Friday, August 26, 2016

OSHA Fines Increase By 78%, Will That Lead To An Increase in Safety Consulting & Training?

Starting on August 1, 2016, employers who have Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) violations issued on or after this date for violations occurring on or after November 2, 2015 are subject to the new OSHA maximum civil penalties (fines) that are 78% higher.  This civil penalty increase was mandated by Congress, on November 2, 2015, through legislation that required all federal agencies to adjust their civil penalties to account for inflation.  For OSHA, the last time these penalties were adjusted was back in 1990.  Moving forward, as the legislation requires, the penalties will be adjusted each year based on the Consumer Price index.  OSHA will continue to do penalty reductions based on the size of the employer and other factors.

The following table shows based on the type of violation what the old fine was compared to the civil penalty increase:

OSHA Penalty Adjustments To Take Effect After August 1, 2016
Current Maximum Penalty
New Maximum Penalty
Other-Than-Serious Posting Requirements
$7,000 per violation
$12,471 per violation
Failure to Abate
$7,000 per day beyond the abatement date
$12,471 per day beyond the abatement date
Willful or Repeated
$70,000 per violation
$124,709 per violation

It is important to realize violations such as not performing respirator fit testing on your staff, or having a respiratory protection or hazard communication programs will now be $12,471 per violation.  Add to this OSHA's new reporting requirement that goes into effect on January 1, 2017.  This new reporting requirement requires electronic submission of injury and illness information that already is being collected.  The difference is this information will be made available to the public.  The idea is that with information being available to the public, employers will focus more on safety.  The new reporting regulation also anticipates an improvement in the accuracy of the data, because it prohibits employers from discouraging workers from reporting injuries and illnesses.  This part of the rule went into effect on August 10, 2016 (hey that's my birthday), however, OSHA has delayed enforcement till November 1, 2016.  It seems to us these two changes will create the perfect storm for employers to have an additional need for safety & health training and consulting.

Angelo Garcia, III Speaking at PACNY 2016
OSHA's website discussing the increase in civil penalties can be found here.  While the OSHA website discussing the new reporting requirements can be found here.

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