Recent Inflation Increase Pushes Up OSHA and Other Labor Law Penalties

Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.
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Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.

The recent spike in inflation has now caused a 6.2 percent rise in penalties for violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 and other labor laws.

On January 14, 2022, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and several other labor agencies, acting under the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990, announced that to account for inflation, penalties would rise. The announcement is published at 87 Fed. Reg. 2328.

The following table shows the rise in OSHA penalties, as stated in the amendment to OSHA’s regulation at 29 C.F.R. § 1903.15(d):

Type Minimum Maximum
Willful $10,360 $145,027
Repeated none $145,027
Serious $1 $14,502
Other-Than-Serious none $14,502
Failure to Abate none $14,502 per day
Posting none $14,502

The U.S. Department of Labor pointed out that, under section 18 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, states administering OSHA-approved state plans must have maximum and minimum penalty levels that are at least as effective as federal OSHA’s. A rise in penalties in state plan states can therefore soon be expected.

The announcement also covered civil penalties under other labor laws, including the Construction Safety Act, Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977, Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, Immigration and Nationality Act, Walsh-Healey Public Contracts Act, Employee Polygraph Protection Act, United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement Implementation Act, Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA), and the Black Lung Benefits Act.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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