In the recent federal budget deal reached by Congress and signed by President Obama, OSHA gets an early Christmas present – if it wants to open this surprise package.


According to Aaron Trippler, government affairs director for the American Industrial Hygiene Association, writing in his “Happenings on the Hill,” OSHA fines were last raised in 1990 and OSHA is one of the few federal agencies with civil penalties that don’t increase with inflation. The budget deal approved by Congress and the President makes some changes here:

• OSHA would be allowed to raise fines annually in line with the Consumer Price Index.

• OSHA would be allowed to have a one-time “catch-up” adjustment of 82 percent to make up for no increases since 1990.

Whether or not OSHA chooses to increase fines by 82 percent in one step is up for debate, writes Trippler.

There’s no word from OSHA on what the agency is thinking in this area, he says. Trippler adds: “Will be interesting to see how this plays out. What is actually more interesting is how this ended up in the final budget deal in the first place. OSHA is usually a ‘forgotten’ agency on the Hill, so to have this specific inclusion is very unusual.”