Newsday, 17 April 2016
For the first time since 1990, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) this year will increase its fines to account for inflation. The increase was authorized in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 signed into law in November. Industry experts estimate the increase could be as much as 80 percent, making it more imperative than ever for businesses to make workplace safety a top priority.
‘This is something businesses should be putting on the front burner,’ says Kyle Meinert, a risk adviser at HNI, a New Berlin, Wisconsin-based insurance, benefits and business advisory firm. Particularly small businesses, which ‘can’t necessarily absorb the size of the increased citations,’ he notes. Current estimates using October 1990 to September 2015 Consumer Price Index data allow for a nearly 80 percent increase in OSHA fines for 2016, says Meinert.
While the exact amount of the increase has yet to be determined, OSHA spokesman Ted Fitzgerald said the Labor Department is required to publish an Interim Final Rule in the Federal Register on or before July 1, and that the new penalty levels will take effect no later than Aug. 1.
OSHA will be conducting outreach to employers, he noted. But if industry estimates come to fruition, OSHA fines, for example, for willful or repeat violations could increase from a current maximum of $70,000 per violation to approximately $125,000 per violation, says Meinert.”
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