Shutdown Slows Annual Increase of OSHA Penalties


Update: Amid the ongoing shutdown, the final rule was published in the Federal Register on Jan. 23. Click here to view the final rule.

Although the date that new penalty levels will take effect is unknown, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was able to announce new penalties for violations of workplace safety and health standards. Penalties are being increased by 2.52% to account for inflation.

The Inflation Adjustment Act compels the Department of Labor to adjust civil penalty levels based on the Consumer Price Index for Urban Consumers annually by Jan. 15. However, due to the shutdown, the new rates won’t go into effect until the final rule is published in the Federal Register.

New penalties for serious, other-than-serious, and posting requirement violations are $13,260 per violation, according to OSHA.

Willful and repeat violations will incur penalties of $132,598 per violation, while failure-to abate-violations penalties are $13,260 per day beyond the abatement date.

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OSHA is remaining open during the shutdown and has a fiscal-year 2019 budget of nearly $5.6 million. The Department of Labor is funded through September 2019.

OSHA conducted over 32,000 federal inspections in 2018, and nearly 41,000 state inspections. The most common violations last year were for fall protection, followed by hazard communication standards and scaffolding. For the first time, violations of eye and face PPE requirements were among the top 10 violations.

Top 10 OSHA Standard Violations—FY 2018

  1. Fall protection, construction (29 CFR 1926.501)
  2. Hazard communication standard, general industry (29 CFR 1910.1200)
  3. Scaffolding, general requirements, construction (29 CFR 1926.451)
  4. Respiratory protection, general industry (29 CFR 1910.134)
  5. Control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout), general industry (29 CFR 1910.147)
  6. Ladders, construction (29 CFR 1926.1053)
  7. Powered industrial trucks, general industry (29 CFR 1910.178)
  8. Fall Protection–Training Requirements (29 CFR 1926.503)
  9. Machinery and Machine Guarding, general requirements (29 CFR 1910.212)
  10. Eye and Face Protection (29 CFR 1926.102)


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