OSHA Set to Increase Fines Substantially
Posted by Cathy B. on March 14, 2016 in Contractor Focus

Many business owners don’t expect that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) would ever come to their business to conduct an inspection. Some business owners believe that their business is too small or they don’t have enough employees—would OSHA really take the time to inspect them? The answer is yes—and those inspections can yield costly fines that could be detrimental to a business.


Did you know that in 2014, 4,679 workers were killed on the job—that’s an average of 13 people every day.1 And on top of that, nearly 3 million non-fatal injuries were reported in 2014.2 It’s important to remember and appreciate that OSHA is here to protect the health and safety of all workers, and sometimes that means issuing citations and fines to employers so they comply with the regulations, which are the law!


On November 2, 2015, President Obama signed a new budget into law that included plans to raise OSHA citation fines by up to 80%. That was a result of an amendment to the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990. The increase will be effective August 1, 2016. Prior to that, OSHA fines hadn’t increased since 1990.


Below is a chart of the current and proposed penalty levels that OSHA plans to levy on employers that do not comply with the regulations.


Citation Level

Current Maximum Penalty Level

August 2016 Maximum Penalty Level

Other than Serious



Serious Violations



Willful Violations



Repeated Violations



You can see how these fines could have a huge financial impact on a small business. And the maximum fines outlined above apply to each individual violation—not to the total number of violations a business may have.


How can you prevent these types of fines at your business? Develop a written safety program highlighting how your business will comply with OSHA regulations. Conduct OSHA-required compliance training with your employees and document the training with employee sign-in sheets. Walk around your business on a daily basis to search for hazards and fix them before employees are injured. Get employees involved in your safety program—safety committees are always a good idea.




Cathy B.
Cathy B. started at ACUITY in the fall of 2015, has a bachelor’s degree in safety engineering, and brings over 32 years of safety experience, including 5 years in loss control. She spent most of her career in manufacturing environments, but also has experience in retail, construction, and trucking fleet safety. She has produced numerous insurance safety videos, brochures, and has written articles for publications. She is currently helping ACUITY enhance their printed materials to better educate our insureds. She was also an EMT for 28 years and worked for full-time and volunteer fire departments. In her free time, Cathy likes to paint stained-glass projects.

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