New rules increase top OSHA fines by 78%

Providers will face higher fines for unsafe workplaces under the new OSHA rules
Providers will face higher fines for unsafe workplaces under the new OSHA rules

Two interim final rules announced by the U.S. Department of Labor on Thursday will lead to a major increase in OSHA's maximum penalty for workplace safety violations.

The first rule will cover the majority of penalties assessed by OSHA and several other federal agencies. The second will focus solely on penalties related to temporary guest worker programs.

The top penalty for serious violations will rise from $7,000 to $12,471. The maximum penalty for willful or repeated violations that once ranged from $5,000 to $70,00 will also increase to anywhere between $8,908 to $124,709. The increases will become effective Aug. 1, 2016.

The rules were announced in compliance with the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act passed by Congress in 2015. Under the act, agencies are required to adjust their penalties each year to reflect inflation and publish “catch up” rules to compensate for the time since the last adjustment.

“Civil penalties should be a credible deterrent that influences behavior far and wide,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “Adjusting our penalties to keep pace with the cost of living can lead to significant benefits for workers and can level the playing field responsible employers who should not have to compete with those who don't follow the law.”

For a complete list of each agency's individual penalty adjustments, click here.