After Congress passed the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act in 2015, it has now become an annual requirement for the U.S. Department of Labor to adjust civil penalty amounts for the various laws it enforces using cost-of-living adjustments to account for inflation. According to the Act, the purpose of these annual adjustments is to improve the effectiveness of civil monetary penalties by increasing the amounts to maintain their deterrent effect.
For 2021, the U.S. Department of Labor published a final rule setting forth the following adjustments to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) civil penalty amounts based on cost-of-living adjustments:
OSHA’s maximum penalties for serious and other-than-serious violations will increase from $13,494 per violation to $13,653 per violation.
The maximum penalty for willful or repeated violations will increase from $134,937 per violation to $136,532 per violation.
Posting violations increased from $13,494 per violation to $13,653 per violation.
Failure to abate violations increased from $13,494 per day to $13,653 per day.
These OSHA civil penalty adjustments become effective and apply to any penalties assessed after January 15, 2021. Since they must have standards and an enforcement program as effective as Federal OSHA, State OSHA plans must also increase their penalty amounts to come into alignment with these penalty increases.