OSHA, EPA and FWS Finalize New Maximum Civil Penalties
The financial penalties that federal agencies may impose on the regulated community as restitution (or a deterrent) for any violation of statutes/regulations or permit requirements are about to go way up, some by as much as 150 percent. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) – to name a few – all have finalized penalty increases that take effect this summer. Most notable, OSHA’s maximum penalties have increased by approximately 80 percent across the board. Similarly, EPA published more than 65 penalty increases across the various environmental statutes that it administers.
The impending higher fines stem from recent legislation requiring federal agencies to adjust their civil penalties in two significant ways. First, the agencies must make initial “catch up” adjustments with the higher penalty levels to take effect no later than Aug. 1, 2016 – as previously reported by AGC (click here and here). Second, looking ahead, federal agencies must make adjustments for inflation every year — a change from the prior frequency of once every 4 years. OSHA and EPA will apply the new higher fines to all civil penalties assessed on or after Aug. 1, 2016, for violations that occurred after Nov. 2, 2015 (when the 2015 Adjustment Act was enacted).
Here’s the OSHA news release.