On June 30, 2016, the United States Department of Labor announced increases to the maximum amount of civil monetary penalties that can be assessed under the OSHA law. The authority for this increase was the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act passed by Congress in 2015 which directed Federal agencies to adjust their penalties for inflation each year. State Plan States, such as Maryland, would also be required to raise their maximum civil penalties accordingly to be “as effective as” the Federal OSHA law. OSHA penalties were last raised in 1990.
Overall, OSHA’s maximum penalties will increase by 78% to catch up with inflation. The maximum penalty for a serious violation of the OSHA law and regulations has been raised from $7,000 per violation to $12,471 per violation. The penalty for a failure to abate a cited hazard was increased from $7,000 per day beyond the abatement date to $12,471 per day beyond the abatement date. The new maximum civil penalty for willful or repeated violations has been increased, from the present maximum penalty of $70,000 per violation, to $124,709 per violation.
For small businesses like funeral service, OSHA will continue to provide penalty reductions, based on the size of the employer and other factors, from the new maximum levels. Because of the increased maximum civil penalties, however, final penalties issued, after the reduction, would still be higher than what was previously assessed.
Going forward OSHA will continue to adjust its maximum civil penalties based on the Consumer Price Index. The new penalties will take effect after August 1, 2016. Any citations issued by OSHA after that date, will be subject to the new penalties if the related violations occurred after November 2, 2015.
Any questions regarding the new increase in penalties can be directed to Edward M. Ranier, Esquire at (410) 967-1812 or to firstname.lastname@example.org.