On August 1, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) increased the maximum assessed penalties for violations for the first time since 1990. Mandated by Congress in 2015, the maximum penalties—which were adjusted for inflation—increased by about 78 percent. Any citations issued by OSHA after August 1 for violations that occurred after November 2, 2015 will be subject to the new maximum penalties.
Serious Violations = $12,471 Max
The maximum penalty for a serious violation has increased from $7,000 per citation to $12,471. As defined by OSHA, a serious violation is one in which there is a substantial probability of death or serious physical harm from a hazard of which the employer should have been aware. The penalty for a serious violation may be lower depending on the size of the business, the employer’s previous violation history, and the gravity of the violation for which the citation was issued.
Willful Violations = $124,709 Max
The maximum penalty for a willful violation has increased from $70,000 per citation to $124,709. As defined by OSHA, a willful violation occurs when an employer knowingly creates or ignores a hazardous condition and makes no reasonable effort to eliminate it. The minimum penalty for a willful violation is $8,908. An employer may be assessed less than the maximum fine depending on the size of the business and previous violation history.
Repeat Violations = $124,709 Max
The maximum penalty for a repeat violation has increased from $70,000 per citation to $124,709. As defined by OSHA, a repeat violation occurs when the same hazard—or a substantially similar hazard—is identified upon re-inspection of the jobsite.
Other-Than-Serious Violations = $12,471 Max Suggested
Other-than-serious violations result from hazards that have direct relationships to job safety and health but are not likely to cause serious physical harm or death. While the maximum suggested penalty for other-than-serious violations has increased to $12,471, most fines assessed are significantly lower—particularly if the employer does not have a history of workplace safety issues.
Failure to Abate Violation =$12,471 Max Per Day Beyond Abatement Date
Employers who are cited by OSHA for a violation and fail to remedy the hazardous condition by a predetermined date may receive a failure to abate violation. The maximum penalty has increased from $7,000 per day to $12,471 per day. If the violation was corrected but later reappeared, they would receive a repeat violation instead.
Employers can be given citations for violating any of OSHA’s workplace safety standards. However, the most commonly cited include fall protection, hazard communication, scaffolding, respiratory protection, lockout/tagout, powered industrial trucks, ladders, electrical and wiring methods, machine guarding, and electrical general requirements. If you’re concerned that your jobsite may be violating some of these standards, you may want to schedule an on-site consultation through OSHA’s on-site consultation program . Or, if you’d like to ensure your workplace safety program is adequately addressing all possible risks, contact us for a review and evaluation.