President Obama signed the bipartisan budget act into law in November, and it included a surprise for those who didn’t take the time to read it. It requires mandatory upward adjustments of multiple civil penalties, including OSHA penalties.
OSHA issues citations for various levels of violations. A Serious violation, which could be a missing cover on an electrical outlet or a table saw with no saw guard, has a current maximum penalty of $7,000. By August 1, 2016 the maximum penalty for Serious violations will increase to roughly $12, 476. A Willful violation currently ranges from $5,000 to $70,000, but the new budget act raises this range to $8,912 to $124,765.
Then, OSHA is supposed to increase penalties annually using the consumer price index. According to attorneys at Ogletree Deakins, a national employment law firm, “OSHA has consistently touted the benefits of engaging in regulation by shaming, which includes issuing citations with high penalties that are accompanied by hard-hitting press releases.” Take advantage of the risk consulting services of your workers compensation brokers and carriers to avoid exposure to OSHA citations.
Scott Mastley, SPHR, MBA, is the Vice President of Human Resources for Resource Alliance.
Scott is a consultant, not an attorney, so he shares his opinions, not legal advice, about increasing performance and limiting liability.