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January 02, 2018
OSHA penalties increase by 2 percent
By Emily Scace, Senior Editor, Safety

Effective January 2, civil penalties for violations of workplace safety and health standards are 2 percent higher, with a new maximum fine of nearly $130,000. OSHA increased its penalties to adjust for inflation as required by the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 2015, which initially raised civil penalties by 78 percent after over 2 decades without a penalty increase and mandated annual adjustments by January 15 of each year.

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The new penalty levels will apply to all violations occurring after November 2, 2015, with penalties assessed after January 2, 2018.

The following chart compares penalties in effect January 2, 2018, to the January 2017 levels:

Violation January 2017 penalty levels Penalties as of January 2, 2018

Any willful violation of OSHA rules or standards

Minimum of $9,054 up to $126,749

Minimum of $9,239 up to $129,336

Any repeat violation of OSHA rules or standards

Up to $126,749

Up to $129,336

Any serious violation of OSHA rules or standards

Up to $12,675

Up to $12,934

Any OSHA violation deemed not serious

Up to $12,675

Up to $12,934

Failure to correct a violation

Up to $12,675 for each day the condition continues

Up to $12,934 for each day the condition continues

Violation of posting requirements

Up to $12,675

Up to $12,934

The penalty levels that employers face depend on when the violation(s) occur and when penalties are assessed. OSHA will use the following schedule to determine which penalty amounts apply in a given enforcement case:

Violations occurring Penalty assessed Which penalty level applies

On or before November 2, 2015

On or before August 1, 2016

Pre-August 1, 2016 levels

On or before November 2, 2015

After August 1, 2016

Pre-August 1, 2016 levels

After November 2, 2015

After August 1, 2016, but on or before January 13, 2017

August 1, 2016 levels

After November 2, 2015

After January 13, 2017, but on or before January 2, 2018

January 13, 2017 levels

After November 2, 2015

After January 2, 2018

January 2, 2018 levels

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