Continuing a trend over the past several years, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is stepping up their game when it comes to civil penalties for not complying with their regulations. This effort is taking place on two fronts.
- Inflation Adjustment: In accordance with the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 2015, federal agencies are required to adjust their maximum fees for violations to keep up with the cost of living. Thus, as inflation increases, so does the potential cost of OSHA fines. As of January 1, 2023, there is a 6.2% increase in maximum fines—the largest increase since this act was put into place. Specifically, the maximum OSHA civil penalties have increased to:
- Serious & Other than Serious Violations: $15,625
- Repeat & Willful Violations: $156,259
- Failure to Abate (per day): $15,625
- Instance-by-Instance Citations: OSHA published new enforcement guidance designed to “ save lives and hold employers to greater account for safety and health failures” by making penalties more effective, to deter employers from continued violations of a standard, particularly for repeat offenders and organizations that clearly aren’t committed to protecting their workers from hazards. Where OSHA identifies “high-gravity” serious violations of their standards, Regional Administrators and Area Office Directors can cite violations as “instance-by-instance citations.” For example, instead of one fine for $15,625 for machine guarding violations, if OSHA identifies 10 pieces of equipment where the point of operation is not properly guarded, they could cite the employer 10 times at $15,625 for a total of $156,250! Besides machine guarding, other examples of some types of violations that could be considered for these instance-by-instance citations include the following standards:
- Permit-Required Confined Spaces
- Respiratory Protection
- Recordkeeping (other-than-serious)
This change in enforcement is designed to ensure that OSHA is applying the full authority of the Occupational Safety and Health Act where increased citations are needed to discourage non-compliance. This new guidance covers both General Industry and Construction (as well as Agriculture and Maritime). This guidance becomes effective on March 27, 2023.
What can you do?
The best way to avoid possible OSHA citations is to comply with the applicable OSHA regulations and establish a culture of safety in your organization. If you need help determining what regulations apply to you or how to comply with certain aspects of various regulations, please reach out to Steve McCarty, McConkey’s Risk Solutions Consultant at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 717-505-3184.