On November 2, 2015, Congress enacted the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015, to improve the effectiveness of civil monetary penalties and to maintain their deterrent effect. The Act required agencies to: (1) adjust the level of civil monetary penalties with an initial “catch-up” adjustment, and (2) make subsequent annual adjustments for inflation no later than January 15 of each year.
On January 23, 2019, --delayed by the government shutdown--the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) published a final rule in the Federal Register increasing various civil penalties assessed by the DOL, including the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The increased penalty levels apply to any penalties assessed after the effective date of the rule. Accordingly, for penalties assessed after January 23, 2019, whose associated violations occurred after November 2, 2015, the higher penalty amounts will apply.
OSHA penalties are adjusted as follows:
- Serious and non-serious violations: maximum civil penalty increased to $13,260.
- Willful violations: maximum civil penalty increased to $132,598.
- Repeated violations: maximum civil penalty increased to $132,598.
- Violations of OSHA posting requirement: penalty increased to $13,260.
- Failure to abate violations: penalty increased to $13,260 per day beyond the abatement date.