The recently passed Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 allows for significant increases in OSHA civil penalties and fines by factoring in adjustments for inflation, retroactively to 1996.  And the bill apparently allows for continued increases in OSHA fines for future costs of inflation.

Since 1990 maximum OSHA fines for “Other Than Serious” and “Serious” was $7,000 and the maximum for “Willful” and “Repeats” was $70,000 but not anymore…

Sec. 701. Civil monetary penalty inflation adjustments.

Section 701(a) establishes the short title for this section as the “Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015.” Section 701(b) amends the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990 (28 U.S.C. 2461 note) to:

1. Require all agencies with civil monetary penalties covered by the statute to update penalties based on their value in the last update prior to 1996 and the change in the CPI between that date and October 2015. The increase in penalties that results from this “catch up” calculation would be capped at 150% (so a penalty now set at $10,000 could not increase to more than $25,000).

2. Require all agencies to adjust their civil monetary penalties annually based on changes in the CPI, using data from October of each year.

3. Replace current rounding rules with a simple rule that penalties be rounded to the nearest dollar.

4. Apply these provisions to the Occupational Safety and Health Act and civil penalties assessed under the Social Security Act.

Based upon the “CPI Inflation Calculator” from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) website, the maximum allowable OSHA fines beginning next year are estimated to be:

    • Other Than Serious (was $7,000) – maximum is now $10,616
    • Serious (was $7,000) – maximum is now $10,616
    • Willful (was $70,000) – maximum is now $106,158

Presumably these increases will help cover the massive US debt, since OSHA fines are not payable directly to OSHA, but instead to the United States Treasury.

It’s a reminder of the importance of Texas manufacturers and construction companies to get their OSHA compliance programs in order!