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Workplace Safety Violations Carry Big Price Tag

Posted on February 7, 2023

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has published its annual list of increases to the civil penalties the agency may administer for violations related to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The increase in penalties from last year reflects surging inflation.

The new penalties will apply to all OSHA-issued citations effective January 16, 2023 and will apply to any employer with a current open OSHA inspection.

In 2015, Congress adopted the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Improvements Act requiring annual adjustments to civil penalties issued by a variety of federal enforcement agencies including OSHA, Wage and Hour Division (WHD) and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  The goal is to eliminate a prior problem of penalties diminishing in value over time to the point where they no longer had a deterrent effect.

Here are the changes in OSHA penalties based on the maximum and minimum amounts the agency may assess for 2023 as compared to last year:

Serious Violations

  • Penalty minimum: 2022 – $1,036       2023 – $1,116 per violation
  • Penalty maximum: 2022- $14,502       2023 – $15,625 per violation

Other-Than-Serious Violations

  • Penalty minimum: $0
  • Penalty maximum: 2022 – $14,502 2023 – $15,625 per violation

Willful or Repeated Violations

  • Penalty minimum: 2022 – $10,360 2023 – $11,162 per violation
  • Penalty maximum: 2022 – $145,027 2023 – $156,259 per violation

Violation of Posting Requirements

  • Penalty minimum: $0
  • Penalty maximum: 2022 – $14,502 2023 – $15,625 per violation

Failure-to-Abate Violations

Penalty minimum:                        N/A

Penalty maximum:                        2022 – $14,502     2023 – $15,625 per day unabated beyond the abatement date

OSHA penalties may have significant financial consequences for an employer. Employers concerned about health and safety issues in the workplace have resources they can access to help them conduct a safety and health audit before OSHA appears at the door.

Two of the most useful resources are an employer’s own workers’ compensation insurance company and the state of Massachusetts OSHA consultation program

AIM Members interested in discussing this or any other human resources issue may call the AIM Employer Hotline at 1-800-470-6277.