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Maximum Penalties Increase in 2018 for OSHA Violations

On January 2, 2018, the U.S. Department of Labor announced an increase in the maximum penalty amounts for violations of federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards and regulations.

Not only have penalties increased nationwide, they affect state rules as well. States that have their own occupational safety and health standards and regulations have also raise their maximum penalty amounts for violations by the same amount. In future years, the maximum penalty amounts will be increased every year to adjust for the rate of inflation.

New 2018 Maximum Penalties

Violation Type2016 Maximum Penalty2018 Maximum Penalty
Other than Serious Violations$12,600$12,934
Serious Violation$12,600$12,934
Willful or Repeat Violation$126,000$129,336

What This Means for Businesses

Businesses in the OSHA-regulated industries should keep tabs on these continuing increases in the maximum penalties. Fines hit hard, and many businesses become vulnerable as they increase. The largest companies may have the most to lose, as OSHA inspects companies with multiple facilities and/or multiple worksites, all on a continuous basis. Some predict that OSHA's current trend of increasing fines may continue, bringing the cost of a single "willful" or "repeat" violation to as high as $150,000.

Here are some ideas for how to prepare yourself for these fine increases:

  • Top OSHA Citations - Do your workers experience any of the hazards associated with these top violations? Addressing these top citation areas can be a good first step in re-evaluating your safety program.
  • OSHA Outreach Training - Do all of your workers carry a 10-hour OSHA card? And do your supervisors and managers have a 30-hour OSHA card? Outreach training can be a great baseline to ensure workers have basic safety training topics covered.
  • Certificate Courses - Are there topics and hazards you know are especially risky for your workers? Make sure to train (and re-train annually!) on these topics. Our certificate training courses, which result in an official Certificate of Completion, can be a great option to complete annual or biennial training efficiently and on a budget.