While penalties can be a deterrent to certain actions, the penalty must be great enough to gain attention and incentivize a change in behavior. The government took that into consideration when passing the 2015 Inflation Adjustment Act, part of the bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. For decades, penalties have not kept up with the pace of inflation. Though a law was passed in 1990 designed to ensure there was a connection with penalties and inflation, there was also a low cap on increases and complex rounding rules that kept penalties at the 1990 level. All this changed this month when new penalties went into effect.
Below is a chart outlining the increases, which are significant – up to 78% for OSHA’s maximum penalties.
Agencies affected besides are the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are the Employee Benefits Security Administration, the Mine Safety and Health Administration, the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs, and the Wage and Hour Division.
Employers who may want to seek assistance to ensure compliance with current laws can go to a website created especially for that purpose.
Chart from osha.gov/penalties