Workforce

Feds raise the penalties for OSHA infractions

Fines were increased by 3.2%, or the rate of inflation, to maintain their strength as deterrents, DOL said.
Inflation is pushing up the penalties for workplace infractions. | Photo: Shutterstock

Restaurants and other employers that violate state or federal workplace rules could face higher penalties as of Jan. 16, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced Thursday.

Because of inflation, the Department’s Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA) is raising the maximum fine for repeated or willful violations of the agency’s job site rules to $161,323 per infraction, a 3.2% bump from the current top financial penalty.

All other violations—technically categorized as serious and other-than-serious—will carry a maximum fine of $16,131 per lapse, also an increase of 3.2%. Failure to meet OSHA’s requirements for posting workplace materials will fall within that bracket.

An employer might not be charged for a first violation categorized as other-than-serious; instead, the company is often given an opportunity to correct the lapse. If the situation isn’t remedied, the concern could be fined $460 for a second violation, $1,152 for a second infraction and $2,304 per violation thereafter.

If a restaurant or other employer fails to correct a serious violation brought to their attention by OSHA, the business will be fined $131,131 until the infraction is corrected, DOL said.

States are required by federal law to levy fines at least as severe.

The increase in penalties is intended to ensure the fines remain a deterrent in the face of inflation, according to the department. Adjustments to the cost of living are required under relevant U.S. law.

OSHA also discounts its penalties by workforce size. The larger the payroll, the bigger the discount an employer is granted. Businesses employing more than 250 workers might not be charged for an initial transaction, according to the figures that were released by DOL on Thursday.

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