Inflation: great for balloons and car tires, not so great for business owners.
Just as they did last year, Occupational Safety and Health Administration penalties have increased in 2018. The increases are the result of the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015, which requires federal agencies such as OSHA to to account for inflation by annually raising maximum fees for violations.
In 2018, the maximum penalties for serious and other-than-serious violations have increased from $12,675 to $12,934, while maximum penalties willful and repeat violations have increased from $126,749 $129,336.
Why increase these penalties incrementally, year after year? Because, in the eyes of lawmakers, everything else is getting more expensive, so regulatory fines should follow suit. A sudden, drastic increase would likely lead to more backlash than Congress could handle. And if fines never increased, organizations may eventually decide that noncompliance is cheaper than compliance.
For more about the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act, make sure to read our coverage of last year’s penalty increases.