Under a provision in the recent congressional budget deal, signed into law by President Obama on November 2, OSHA has been directed to issue an interim final rule increasing its penalties to account for current inflation levels, which would raise proposed fines by about 80 percent. This would mean the maximum penalty for a willful violation would rise to about $127,000 from the current $70,000. The adjustment must occur before Aug. 1, 2016. In subsequent years, OSHA also will be allowed – for the first time – to adjust its penalties levels based on inflation. An interim final rule goes into effect immediately but allows for public comment at the same time.
The last time OSHA’s maximum penalty levels were increased was in the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990. As a part of the 1990 budget reconciliation, the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990 exempted OSHA from increasing its penalties to account for inflation. The new budget contains an amendment that strikes the exemption. NLBMDA will be monitoring the issuance of the anticipated interim final rule.