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OSHA Penalty Increases

  1. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (29 CFR Parts 1902, 1903)
  2. General

This section E of the preamble addresses the civil monetary penalties administered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to enforce provisions of the Occupational Safety & Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act), as amended. Paragraph 2(a) explains conforming edits to the agency’s State Plan regulations. Paragraph 2(b) explains revisions to each of the civil penalties administered and enforced by OSHA.

  1. Specific Penalty Increases
  2. Section 1902.4(c)(2)(xi)—Indices of Effectiveness

Section 18(c)(2) of the OSH Act provides that a State may assume responsibility for development and enforcement of its own occupational safety and health standards by submitting a State Plan. State Plan regulations at 29 CFR 1902.3(c)(1) and (d)(1) provide that State Plans must develop or adopt occupational safety and health standards and an enforcement program for those standards that are at least as effective as federal OSHA’s standards and enforcement program. Existing § 1902.4(c)(2)(xi) provides that in order to satisfy this requirement of effectiveness, State Plans must have effective sanctions, such as those prescribed in the OSH Act. This IFR amends § 1902.4(c)(2)(xi) to clarify that State Plans must provide sanctions as effective as those set forth in the OSH Act and in § 1903.15(d), against private-sector employers who violate State standards and orders.

  1. Section 1903.15—OSH Act Penalties

The penalty amounts set forth in section 17(a) to (d) and (i) of the OSH Act (29 U.S.C. 666(a) to (d) and (i)) were last updated by the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990 on November 5, 1990. Pub. L. 101-508. To adjust the civil penalties for Section 17(a) to (d) and (i), the Department multiplied the penalty amounts by the inflation adjustment factor for 1990 of 1.78156. None of the resulting penalty amounts exceeded the 150 percent statutory cap. Other references to penalty amounts in Part 1903 are also amended by the new penalty amounts set out in § 1903.15(d).

  1. Willful or Repeated Violation of the OSH Act, 29 U.S.C 666(a)

Section 17(a) of the OSH Act, 29 U.S.C 666(a), provides that employers who willfully or repeatedly violate the requirements of section 5 of the OSH Act, any standards, rules or orders promulgated under section 6 of the OSH Act, or applicable regulations may be assessed a civil penalty of not more than $70,000 for each violation, but not less than $5,000 for each willful violation. No minimum penalty is set forth in the OSH Act for repeated violations. To adjust the existing civil money penalty for this paragraph, the Department multiplied the penalty amounts by the inflation adjustment factor for 1990 of 1.78156, which resulted in a maximum penalty of $124,709 for willful and repeated violations, and a minimum penalty of $8,908 for willful violations. The updated civil monetary penalties for willful and repeated violations are set out in § 1903.15(d)(1) and (2).

  1. Serious Violation of the OSH Act of 1970, 29 U.S.C 666(b)

Section 17(b) of the OSH Act, 29 U.S.C 666(b), provides that employers who have received a citation for a serious violation of the requirements of section 5 of the OSH Act, of any standard, rule, or order promulgated under section 6 of the OSH Act, or applicable regulations may be assessed a civil penalty up to $7,000 for each violation. After applying the inflation adjustment factor, the penalty amounts were rounded to the nearest dollar, which resulted in a maximum penalty of $12,471. The updated maximum civil monetary penalty for serious violations is set out in § 1903.15(d)(3).

iii. Other-Than-Serious Violation of the OSH Act of 1970, 29 U.S.C 666(c)

Section 17(c) of the OSH Act, 29 U.S.C 666(c), provides that employers who have received a citation for a violation of the requirements of section 5 of the OSH Act, any standard, rule or order promulgated under section 6 of the OSH Act, or applicable regulations, and such violation is determined not to be of a serious nature, may be assessed a civil penalty of up to $7,000 for each violation. After applying the inflation adjustment factor, the penalty amounts were rounded to the nearest dollar, which resulted in a maximum penalty of $12,471 for each day during which such failure or violation continues. The updated maximum civil monetary penalty for other-than-serious violations is set out in § 1903.15(d)(4).

  1. Failure To Correct a Violation of the OSH Act of 1970, 29 U.S.C 666(d)

Section 17(d), 29 U.S.C 666(d), provides that any employer who fails to correct a violation for which a citation has been issued under section 9(a) of the OSH Act within the period permitted for the correction may be assessed a civil penalty of not more than $7,000 for each day during which such failure or violation continues. After applying the inflation adjustment factor, the penalty amounts are rounded to the nearest dollar, which resulted in a maximum penalty of $12,471. The updated maximum civil monetary penalty for failing to correct a violation is set out in § 1903.15(d)(5).

  1. Violation of a Posting Requirement of the OSH Act of 1970, 29 U.S.C 666(i)

Section 17(i) of the OSH Act, 29 U.S.C. 666(i), provides that employers who violate any of the posting requirements, as prescribed under provisions of the OSH Act, shall be assessed a civil penalty of up to $7,000 for each violation. After applying the inflation adjustment factor, the penalty amounts are rounded to the nearest dollar, which resulted in a maximum penalty of $12,471. The updated maximum civil monetary penalty for violations of the posting requirements is set out in § 1903.15(d)(6).

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