Budget bill provision raises OSHA fines for first time in 25 years

Inflation-adjusted penalty hikes could go up as much as 80%.

November 05, 2015 |
Budget bill provision raises OSHA fines for first time in 25 years

Workers building condos in Washington, D.C. Photo: Elvert Barnes/Creative Commons.

A provision in the budget bill recently signed by President Obama raised U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration raises fines for workplace safety violations for the first time in 25 years.

The measure that brings penalties in line with inflation increases since 1990 also requires future OSHA and state agency penalty hikes to continue to rise with inflation. OSHA has not announced the exact increase, but it could be as much as an 80% jump.

The agency must decide on the increased percentage by mid-2016. Industry experts told The Wall Street Journal they were surprised by the provision, which would likely raise maximum penalties for the most severe violations from $70,000 to $125,000, and other serious violations from $7,000 to $12,500.

Safety advocates hailed the new measure, saying it was a step in the right direction to make workplaces safer. Last year, the average fine for an incident resulting in a worker's death was $7,000, and then reduced to $5,050 after settlement talks, according to the AFL-CIO.

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