By Brad Sant, senior vice president of safety and education, ARTBA

Federal workplace penalties issued by the Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are increasing for the first time in 25 years under a provision in the budget deal signed Nov. 2 by President Obama.

A 1990 law prohibited OSHA from adjusting its fines based on inflation, but that rule was struck by a budget amendment.

Before the agency can increase the penalties, OSHA must issue an interim final rule increasing its penalties to account for current inflation levels, which would raise proposed fines by about 80 percent. This would mean the maximum penalty for a willful violation would rise to about $127,000 from the current $70,000. The adjustment must occur before Aug. 1, 2016.

Afterward, OSHA can continue to adjust its penalty levels based on inflation.  ARTBA will monitor OSHA’s regulatory efforts on this matter and keep members informed as to the exact date the penalties will be enforced.