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  • Writer's pictureKEVIN HUTTON

In case you missed it. OSHA fines increased, again...

A whopping $134,937 per violation maximum can be levied. Don't panic, that is the fine for the most severe violation for large companies. The memo below shows how reductions are applied. They're based on the type & gravity of the violation and company size & history.

January 10, 2020



Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary

FROM: PATRICK J. KAPUST, Acting Director

Directorate of Enforcement Programs

SUBJECT: 2020 Annual Adjustments to OSHA Civil Penalties

I. Purpose. The penalty information included in this memorandum is intended to supplement the penalties and debt collection information found in Chapter 6 of the Field Operations Manual (FOM). Tables included in this Memorandum reflect penalty amounts for calendar year 2020, and correspond to penalty amounts found in OSHA Information Systems (OIS). This information will be updated annually to ensure access to current penalty information.

II. Background. On November 2, 2015, former President Barack Obama signed the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015, which further amended the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990 as previously amended by the 1996 Debt Collection Improvement Act (collectively, the “Prior Inflation Adjustment Act”), to improve the effectiveness of civil monetary penalties and maintain their deterrent effect. The Inflation Adjustment Act required agencies to: (1) adjust the level of civil monetary penalties with an initial “catch-up” adjustment through an interim final rule (IFR); and (2) make subsequent annual adjustments for inflation, no later than January 15 of each year. The cost-of-living adjustment multiplier for 2020, based on the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) for the month of October 2019 (not seasonally adjusted), is 1.01764. To compute the 2020 annual adjustment, the Department multiplied the most recent penalty amount for each applicable penalty by the multiplier, 1.01764, and rounded to the nearest dollar. The adjustment factor of 1.01764 will remain consistent across the minimum and maximum penalties set forth in the Occupational Safety and Health Act and the FOM. Specific penalty amounts, as of January 15, 2020, are detailed in the charts.

III. Minimum and Maximum Penalty Amounts. Table 1 summarizes the minimum and maximum amounts for proposed civil penalties:

IV. Gravity Based Penalty Amounts. The gravity of a violation is defined by the Gravity Based Penalty (GBP).

  • A high gravity violation is one with a GBP of $13,494.

  • A moderate gravity violation is one with the GBP ranging from $7,711 to $11,566.

  • A low gravity violation is one with a GBP of $5,783.

For serious violations, the GBP shall be assigned on the basis of the following scale in Table 2: Severity + Probability = GBP

V. Serious Willful Penalty Reductions. The reduction factors for size for serious willful violations shall be applied as shown in Tables 4 and 5:

The reduction factor for history shall be applied. The proposed penalty shall then be determined from Table 5.

If you have any questions regarding the above, please contact Arthur Buchanan in the Directorate of Enforcement Programs at (202) 693-1850.

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