Surprise! (Not Again) – OSHA and EPA Release Civil Penalty Increases for 2021

Seyfarth Synopsis: The DOL and U.S. EPA have published their 2021 increases to civil penalties.

We have blogged previously about the annual adjustments to the maximum civil penalty dollar amounts for OSHA and EPA violations. They have now finalized the 2021 inflation adjustments, which increase the penalties again.

Under the 2021 rule, the new maximum OSHA civil penalties will be:

  2020 Penalties 2021 Penalties
Other than Serious Violations: $13,494 $13,653
Serious Violations: $13,494 $13,653
Repeat Violations: $134,937 $136,532
Willful Violations: $134,937 $136,532
Failure to Abate (Per Day): $13,494 $13,653

The new OSHA penalty amounts are applicable to OSHA citations issued after January 15, 2021, for violations occurring after July 15, 2020.

Readers familiar with EPA’s penalty structure know that environmental statutes typically set out a “per day” penalty, as well as a maximum statutory penalty. However, certain statutes allow for civil judicial enforcement that does not carry a maximum statutory penalty.

Under the 2021 rule, the new maximum EPA civil penalties will be:

  2020 Penalties 2021 Penalties

Clean Air Act                        Daily:

Maximum (per violation):

$48,192 – $101,439

$385,535

$48,762 –  $102,638

$390,092

Clean Water Act                   Daily:

Maximum (per violation):

$22,320 – $55,800

$278,995

$22,584 – $56,460

$282,293

RCRA                                    Daily: $61,098 – $101,439 $61,820 -$102,638
CERCLA                               Daily:
(including EPCRA)
Maximum (per violation):

$58,328

$174,985

$59,017

$177,053

EPA’s 2021 penalties are effective for violations that occurred after November 2, 2015, where the penalty was assessed on or after December 23, 2020. EPA and DOL are required to continue to adjust maximum penalties for inflation by January 15 of each new year.

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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