CHANTILLY, Va. — Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fines are set to increase this year for the first time in a quarter century, according to a news release from the Sheet Metal & Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA).

The increase is due to an amendment in the recent congressional budget deal. The new budget, signed into law by President Barack Obama in early November 2015, removes a provision in the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act that exempts OSHA from raising its penalties to account for inflation.

Now, OSHA is directed to issue an interim final rule that significantly raises its penalties to account for current inflation. This would lift proposed fines by about 80 percent, increasing the cost of a maximum penalty for a willful violation to about $127,000 from the current $70,000. Fines for “other than serious” violations would increase from $7,000 to more than $10,000.

OSHA must make the adjustment before Aug. 1. In subsequent years, OSHA will also be allowed, for the first time, to adjust its penalties based on inflation.

OSHA and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) have some work to do in order for this new provision to take effect, but it’s highly likely that OSHA fines will increase to some extent in 2016. State-plan OSHA states will likely follow and raise their fines, as well.

For any questions regarding the increased fines, or for more information on ways to improve safety and health programs, contact Mike McCullion, SMACNA’s director of safety and health, at

Publication date: 1/11/2016