close up of money and part of a flag

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration in January increased the maximum penalty for “willful or repeated” violations from $136,532 to $145,027 per violation. The House of Representatives approved a measure in September that would quadruple maximum fines to $700,000 per alleged violation — a more than 380% increase from the current cap.

“However, the most recent update to the reconciliation spending bill still being debated by the U.S. Senate did not mention or include any provisions for raising the cap on civil money penalties for citations issued by OSHA,” the National Law Review reported Friday. 

Proponents of higher fines, such as labor and safety groups along with many Democrats, argued that stiff penalties would “deter safety violations and encourage better employer compliance by reducing or eliminating workplace hazards that could lead to serious injury or death.” On the flip side, opponents argue that steeper fines will lead to drawn-out, contested lawsuits, the media outlet reported.

The Senate Appropriations Committee has proposed a $68 million increase, to approximately $679.8 million, in OSHA’s fiscal budget for 2023. The additional funding largely would be used to enforce OSHA’s regulations, according to the National Law Review. 

“This includes $272 million for enforcement, whistleblower protections at $27.5 million, and standards development at $27.5 million,” the media outlet reported.

“While employers will need to be prepared for an expected rise in OSHA enforcement activity next year, at least for now it does not appear that it will come along with significantly higher penalties,” according to the article.