Construction and industrial business that violate U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration workplace safety rules after Aug. 1, 2016, face up to a 75- to 80-percent increase in the fines from the current levels.
For the first time since 1990, Congress has authorized an increase in OSHA fines through its recent passage of a budget bill signed into law by President Barack Obama.
The so-called “catch-up” increase would bring fines in line with inflation over the past 25 years. (Text of the Law) Additionally, in the future, OSHA fines will rise each year with inflation.
What does this mean?
Here’s the math: In October 1990, the consumer price index (CPI) was 133.5. The CPI for September 2015 was 237.9, which is a 78.236 percent increase. The CPI on Aug. 1, 2016, is expected to be slightly higher. The increase in penalties that results from this “catch up” calculation would be capped at 150 percent.
Starting in August 2016, the new maximum penalties per violation, based on the CPI at that time, are expected to be:
- Other-than-serious violations: $12,600, up from $7,000.
- Serious violations: $12,600, up from $7,000.
- Willful violations: $126,000, up from $70,000.
- Repeat violations: $126,000, up from $70,000.
To ensure that workplaces comply with OSHA regulations, a company can:
- Perform mock OSHA audits to identify problem areas, if any, and correct them.
- Determine the cost effectiveness of training on OSHA safety to ensure compliance; or retain an outside firm to strengthen training, improve compliance and recordkeeping information.
When levying a fine, OSHA can make percentage reduction in the fine by taking into consideration whether a company has made an effort to provide safety and health training to its employees, and provided employees with information that reinforces working safety.
If OSHA does inspect a workplace, the general process is the:
- Opening Conference: Understand the purpose of the inspection.
- Walk Around: A company representatives should accompany the OSHA inspector – never let the compliance officer wander. Never discuss situations or conditions. Do not make damaging admissions.
- Closing Conference: Will report items that may be subject to citations. Use the closing conference to correct any misunderstandings.
With the pending fine increases, it is better to ensure that workers are trained to have safe work habits, and are working in a safe environment than to pay higher fines for OSHA violations.
Neff Rental’s safety program includes employee meetings, internal inspections and periodic updates of its health and safety manual. In addition to renting quality equipment, making on-time deliveries and providing 24/7 service, Neff Rental employees ensure that equipment meets or exceeds job site safety requirements, including having back-up alarms, fully-charged fire extinguishers, operating lights and other safety features. For more information about Neff Rental, visit www.NeffRental.com, or call 888-709-NEFF.