What You Need to Know About Recent OSHA Fine Increase Regulations
Starting August 1, OSHA penalties will rise by 78 percent. The increase for workplace-safety violations is the first by OSHA since 1990 and brings the fines in line with inflation.
New Penalty Structure
Maximum fines for most severe citations, willful violations or repeated, are now $125,000 per violation from $70,000. Serious and other-than-serious violations are $12,500 per violation, up from $7,000. For fines related to failure to abate, companies will now pay $12,741 per day beyond the abatement date, up from $7,000.
Expect fines from OSHA and other state agencies to continue to increase every year to keep pace with inflation.
How OSHA Computes Penalties
The gravity of a workplace-safety violation is the primary consideration in determining penalty amounts.
The gravity-based penalty then is determined by two factors: Severity and Probability.
- High severity could cause death or disability.
- Medium severity is a hospitalized reversible injury.
- Low severity is a non-hospitalized reversible injury.
- Minimal severity causes potential harm not considered serious.
Other factors in determining penalty amounts include:
- The size of the business,
- The good faith of the employer, and
- The employer’s history of previous violations
The penalty reduction structure remains the same. Smaller companies can expect a reduction in fines up to 60 percent if they have 25 or fewer employees nationwide.
Other penalty reductions include good faith of up to 25 percent, based on whether there are an appropriate management commitment and employee involvement in improving safety. Good faith reductions are usually granted in a company has a written safety and health management system. For companies that have not been cited previously, reductions of up to 10 percent are possible. OSHA will also reduce penalties by another 15 percent for companies who immediately correct violations.
Often, it’s possible to negotiate with OSHA to bring fine amounts even lower.
See OSHA’s Field Operations Manual for detailed guidance on policy and procedural documents.
A company’s best bet to avoid fines is to take a proactive approach to workplace safety. That includes implementing an effective written safety and health management system. Companies should conduct self-inspection and audits, train employees and supervisors, and consider safety as everyone’s responsibility. In addition, OSHA offers a free, on-site consultation to small business.
More information about OSHA’s new penalties is available on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration website.
To learn more about issues in hiring and managing workplaces, visit the Nesco Resource blog.