Prior to November 2015, federal agencies weren’t required to adjust the level of the maximum fines they assessed to factor in the prospect of inflation, something that had been in place since 1990. That changed when the specific exemption in question was removed from the Bipartisan Budget Act.
Consequently, OSHA penalties were adjusted as of August 2016 to take into account the level of inflation over the past 26 years. Such adjustments relate to all types of violations, with fines increasing by 78 percent for those found to be committing them.
Breaking down the OSHA penalties into different categories, the first deals with violators who commit either serious or other-than-serious acts or fail to place the OSHA poster in a conspicuous spot so that all employees are aware of their rights.
In serious situations, the likelihood of either serious injury or death is very possible. This is the direct result of the employer allowing a dangerous approach to the work involved take place. If the employer is unaware of the activity, a fine may not be assessed.
When other-than-serious violations take place, it means that the danger involved is not necessarily life-threatening. However, the potential victim’s health and safety could be compromised.
Each of these acts previously had a maximum fine of $7,000 for each violation. As of August 2016, that amount has been changed to $12,471 for each OSHA citation issued after November 2, 2015-when the bill was signed into law.
Failure to Abate Violations
In the case of a citation for failure to abate, that $7,000 fine that was assessed daily has now also jumped to $12,471 for each day after the abatement. These violations occur when a company has been found to have ignored a previous citation. Such fines may also be assessed if recurrences of an issue that had been handled takes place.
In the most egregious cases, an assessment of $70,000 for every violation has now increased to $124,709. These are handed out to violations deemed to be willful, which means that a company has deliberately ignored the OSHA mandate or shows no concern for the safety of its employees.
Taking Danger Into Account
One of the most dangerous jobs for a worker can be those who are required to work above six feet of ground. The very real danger of falling exists, which is why OSHA regulations demand protection of those employees with a fall arrest. Failure to take that into consideration will likely result in one of the fines noted above, depending on the results of the subsequent investigation.
The August 2016 adjustment for these OSHA penalties is meant to adapt to the realities of the workplace of the 21st Century. The assessment of fines is often the only means to punish violators. In most cases, allowing lax conditions to develop is the cause, with outright apathy or disregard deserving of the steepest fines possible.