In early November 2015, the Federal Budget Agreement was signed, and it included a bill authorizing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to increase violation fines for the first time since 1990. These unexpected increased fines have the potential to rise up to 80%, making the need for a good OSHA defense lawyer more important than ever
Why is This Happening?
This penalty swell is considered a one-time “catch-up” increase for OSHA to recoup for the last 25 years of no increases. As mentioned earlier, the fines have the potential to rise80%. This is due to the fact that OSHA’s catch-up cannot overreach the inflation rate from 1990-2015 as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which is anticipated to be about 80%. OSHA has yet to announce to what capacity the inflation will be, but if they choose the maximum catch-up increase that is permitted a $70,000 Repeat and Willful fine violation will increase to $125,438 and a $7,000 Serious and Failure-to-Abate violation can increase to $12,744. After this catch-up increase is put into action, OSHA can then annually increase maximum penalties the amount of the inflation rate for the previous fiscal year.
When Will This Happen?
Though the primary violation increases will become effective by August 1, 2016, we can expect to become aware of the exact increase amount sooner than that. The Federal Office of Management and Budget will be providing guidance on applying the bill’s provisions by January 31, 2016. Additionally, to stay in compliance with inflating the maximum fines in line with the CPI for the catch-up entails OSHA providing an interim final rule by July 1, 2016 to allocate the change to begin by August 31st.
What Should You do to Prepare?
With about 9 months to prepare for these increases, it’s recommended that you use that time wisely. Work with your company’s safety professionals to reinforce a safety plan for the work environment. Implement additional safety trainings, update safety logs, and stay up to date with employee complaints and concerns. For any questions and assistance, contact your OSHA defense attorneys.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.