For many businesses and business owners, the United States Department of Labor's Occupational 
Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) can be quite a headache.  Overall, however, the red tape 
and lengthy standards they enforce exist for a just reason: to assure the safety and healthful 
working conditions for men and women in the workforce.  I can't argue that there shouldn't be a 
set of rules that guide business owners and companies in the protection of their most important 
assets.  But, I can argue against the recent inflation that they've implemented.
Back in 1990, Congress passed the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act, which ordered agencies to adjust their civil monetary penalties annually in an attempt to keep up with inflation.  This act, however, did not include OSHA.  Fast forward to 2015, however, and OSHA has now been targeted under the Federal Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act, lovingly referred to as the Inflation Act, which directs agencies to adjust their penalties and catch up to years of missed increases.  This includes adjustments within OSHA such as serious or other-than-serious penalties being raised from $7,000 to $12,675, and willful or repeat citations being raised from $70,000 to $126,749, as of 2017.  To be clear, these penalties are not only for large infractions, they include small offenses as well.
While arguments have been made over the years that OSHA's penalties haven't been harsh enough to effectively maintain the effectiveness of violations and promote compliance with safety regulations, an over 80% increase of fines in one sweeping gesture is undoubtedly extreme.  A citation for a penalty deemed willful or repeat can now set you back six figures.  Those companies that frequently find themselves on a project worksite better beware.  We know that OSHA has been doing a brisk business, but this puts things at a whole other level.  With OSHA's proposed silica standards taking effect later this year, and with these new fine increases, you can bet that OSHA inspectors will be out in full force ready to rake in the dough.
What can you do?  Well, the obvious answer is to make sure that you, your business, and your employees are in compliance with OSHA's regulations.  Keep an eye out for OSHA's continuous press releases, which showcase their rules and enforcement citations.  If you do find yourself amidst an OSHA investigation, be truthful with the inspectors, for lying to OSHA about your involvement or knowledge of the violation carries a large penalty itself.  Also, be sure to educate yourself and your employees.  If you know the rules and the penalties, particularly the citations that are most common within your line of work, you are better equipped to ensure the protection of yourself, your business, and your employees.
Safety should always be a top priority, but now more than ever it carries a heavy financial burden if you're not following the rules.  Protect yourselves, friends, for the road to OSHA compliance looks like it's getting rockier.

Marcus Dodson
editor & publisher
Increased Fines
The Inflation Act & its Effect on OSHA Citations