OSHA Increases Penalties For 2021

Written January 20, 2021

Categories: AD Advocacy, CP Advocacy, DP Advocacy, DT Advocacy, ES Advocacy, First to Know, FP Advocacy, GP Advocacy, IPDAA Advocacy, SM Advocacy

The incoming Biden Administration has placed enhancing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) as a top priority for 2021. There are several reasons driving this and they are primarily due to the lack of an OSHA regulation addressing COVID-19 transmission prevention as well as the drop off in enforcement during the Trump Administration.

The incoming president wants OSHA to take several actions including doubling the number of federal OSHA inspectors. The number of OSHA inspectors dropped to about 750 in 2019, one of the lowest levels. The number of inspections conducted in fiscal year 2020 dropped 35 percent to 21,598, due primarily to COVID-19 restrictions in many workplaces. However, the number of COVID related inspections has dramatically increased over the past several months.

Given the expected increased focus on enforcement, the penalties that OSHA can impose becomes important. In addition, the way the penalties can be imposed also becomes a factor as OSHA can either issue a penalty for each violation or combine them with a single penalty. Under the Trump Administration, the trend was to combine the violations under one penalty while the indications under the Biden Administration will be a return to itemizing each violation and assigning a separate penalty.

The 2015 Inflation Adjustment Act requires OSHA to annually adjust its civil money penalty levels for inflation no later than January 15 of each year. Therefore, on January 15, 2021 Federal OSHA will increase the maximum penalty an employer can be issued for violations. OSHA annually increases its penalty amounts to adjust for inflation as mandated by the law. The increase for 2021 is 1.2 percent.

The new penalty levels will apply to all violations occurring after January 15, 2021. The following chart compares penalties in effect January 15, 2020 to the new penalties effective January 15, 2021.

Violation

Penalties as of
January 15, 2020

Penalties as of
January 15, 2020

Any serious violation of OSHA rules or standards
(29 CFR 1903.15(d)(3))

Up to $13,494

Up to $13,653

OSHA violation deemed other-than-serious
(29 CFR 1903.15(d)(4))

Up to $13,494

Up to $13,653

Failure to correct a violation
(29 CFR 1903.15(d)(5))

Up to $13,494

Up to $13,653

Violation of posting requirements
(29 CFR 1903.15(d)(6))

Up to $13,494

Up to $13,653

Any willful violation of OSHA rules or standards
(29 CFR 1903.15(d)(1))

Minimum of $9,639 up to $134,937

Minimum of $9,753 up to $136,532

Any repeated violation of OSHA rules or standards
(29 CFR 1903.15(d)(2))

Up to $134,937

Up to $136,532


One key question you need to ask yourself for 2021 is – Are you prepared for an OSHA inspection? 

PRINTING United Alliance has developed many resources designed to make OSHA compliance much easier. Plus, you can also get prepared by participating in PRINTING United Alliance’s Safety Recognition Program. Sign up today for PRINTING United’s 2021 Safety Recognition Program

For more information on OSHA compliance requirements and the Safety Recognition Program, contact the Government Affairs Department at govtaffairs@printing.org.