Just a few months after OSHA civil penalties increased by 78%, OSHA published another increase to its civil penalties on January 18, 2017. The latest bump in penalties, which a recent federal law required OSHA to issue, was far more modest, amounting to an adjustment for inflation of about 1% based on the Consumer Price Index.
In 2015, Congress passed amendments to the Inflation Adjustment Act, requiring the Department of Labor to adjust its civil penalties for inflation by January 15th of each year. The law also provided for a one-time “catch-up” adjustment that could be much larger, purportedly to take account of the years of inflation since the last penalty adjustment. In OSHA’s case, it implemented new penalties, which took effect in August 2016 and significantly increased the prior penalties. OSHA’s penalties had last been adjusted prior to that in 1990.
The newest penalties went into effect on January 23, 2017. But, OSHA had to publish a chart to explain which penalties apply to older citations. For violations that occurred on or before November 2, 2015, the pre-August 2016 penalties apply. For violations that occurred after that but were assessed penalties before January 13, 2017, the August 2016 penalties apply. Finally, for violations after November 2, 2015 that are assessed after January 13, 2017, the newest penalties apply.
|Violation occurred||Penalties assessed||Applicable penalties|
|On or before 11/2/2015||Any time||Pre-August 2016 penalties|
|After 11/2/2015||On or before 1/13/2017||August 2016 penalties|
|After 11/2/2015||After 1/13/2017||Newest penalties|
The following chart compares the penalties as of July 2015, August 2016, and January 2017:
|Type of violation||July 2015 max penalty||August 2016 max penalty||January 2017 max penalty|
|$7,000 per violation||$12,471 per violation||$12,675 per violation|
|Failure to Abate||$7,000 per day beyond the
|$12,471 per day beyond the
|$12,675 per day beyond the
|Willful or Repeated||$70,000 per violation||$124,709 per violation||$126,749 per violation|