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Penalties to Increase for OSHA, Health and Environmental Violations

Last year, Congress enacted the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 2015. The Act directed federal agencies to adjust their civil penalties annually. On August 1, 2016, maximum civil penalties imposed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administra‐ tion (OSHA) increased significantly. OSHA increased maximum civil penalties by 78 percent, as OSHA had not made any inflationary increase since 1990. The relevant key increases are as follows:

  • Maximum penalties for willful and repeated violations increased from $70,000 to $124,709 per violation.
  • Maximum penalties for serious and other‐than‐serious violations increased from $7,000 to $12,471 per violation.
  • Maximum penalties for failure‐to‐abate violations increased from $7,000 to $12,471 per day per violation.

Even though Virginia implements and enforces its own OSHA programs, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, the Commonwealth must also adopt these maximum penalty levels.

In addition penalties for willful violations of the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act will increase from $1,100 to $1,894. Meanwhile, penalties from the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs for failure to report termination of payments will also rise from $110 to $275.

In Virginia, 29 Virginia workers have died of job‐related injuries and illnesses through the end of July 2016. At the close of 2015, 31 employees were victims to workplace fatalities ‐ the same number as in 2014. In the month of July alone, eight Virginia workers lost their lives in workplace accidents. Construction companies totaled the most fatal accidents by industry in 2014. Construction industry deaths declined from 2014 to 2015, from 15 to 11 respectively. So far in 2016, nine of the 29 fatalities have occurred in the construction industry. The agricultural industry, including tree trimming operations, typically accounts for one percent (1%) of all the workplace fatalities in Virginia. Males consistently make up the majority of workplace victims.

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Saturday, 04 February 2023

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