OSHA Fines Will Increase for the First Time Since 1990

by Gillian Wener 02 Dec. 2015

On 2 November 2015, President Obama ratified H.R. 1314, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 (Public Law No. 114-74), amending the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990. Previously, the Act of 1990 did not include civil penalties under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA). As OSHA penalties had not been covered by the Act of 1990, Public Law No. 114-74 provides a "catch up" adjustment procedure for agency heads to adjust civil penalties for the first time through an interim final rulemaking. OSHA must publish an interim final rule by 1 July 2016. The adjustments must be in effect as of 1 August 2016. 

After the initial adjustment, the head of each agency is to adjust civil monetary penalties on an annual basis to account for inflation.

The effect of this legislation will be to substantially increase OSHA penalties. As OSHA had not been able to adjust penalties for inflation, the increase will account for more than two decades of no increases. The inflation rate for 1990 through 2015, as measured by the Consumer Price Index, is expected to be around 82%.