ATLANTA — The highest fines employers can face for workplace safety violations will increase by 78%, which will help deter some employers from violating health and safety rules but will not have much impact on the largest employers, according to the head of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, signed by President Barack Obama in November 2015, required all federal agencies with civil monetary penalties covered by the statute, such as OSHA, to update their fines and adjust them going forward to keep up with inflation.
The U.S. Department of Labor published details of the updated civil penalty structure for its divisions in the Federal Register on Friday and will accept public comments on the interim final rule for 45 days.
OSHA's maximum penalties, which have not increased since 1990, will rise by 78%. The top penalty for serious violations will rise to $12,471 from $7,000, while the maximum penalty for willful or repeat violations will increase to $124,471 from $70,000.
“You've heard me say many times, our penalties are too low,” Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health David Michaels told attendees of the American Society of Safety Engineers annual conference in Atlanta on Tuesday. “We have a new maximum amount that we think will increase deterrence. It's still not going to have an impact on very large employers. Look, a $100,000 fine has no impact on the largest employers, but on many employers, this is going to have an impact.”
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