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November 05, 2015
Breaking News: OSHA penalties to increase in 2016!

On Monday, President Obama signed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 into law. Employers need to know that hidden in the Act is Section 701, “Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015” that requires OSHA to increase its civil penalties for the first time since 1990.

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Section 701 includes a onetime “catch-up adjustment” that will happen in 2016 with penalties increasing up to a cap of 150 percent. So, basically, a penalty now set at $10,000 could increase to $25,000. The Agency will adjust—or increase—civil penalties through an interim final rulemaking no later than August 1, 2016.

Based on comments by David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for OSHA, last month before the Committee on Education and the Workforce, Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, expect the increase to be capped. Michaels said, “Simply put, that OSHA penalties must be increased to provide a real disincentive for employers accepting injuries and worker deaths as a cost of doing business.”

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