Under the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 OSHA is required to increase civil penalties for the first time since 1990 and a one-time catch-up adjustment will occur in August 2016. Penalties are expected to be increased by roughly 80 percent, meaning a serious citation of $7,000 may now be $12,500 and a $70,000 willful violation may now be $125,000. The precise penalty amount will be known when OSHA publishes this information in the Federal Register on or before July 1, 2016.

OSHA has stated that employers who are inspected prior to the effective date of August 1, 2016 but are issued citations after August 1 will be issued citations under the new penalty structure with higher penalties. And because OSHA has six months from the date of alleged violations to issue citations, employers with current open inspections resulting in citations issued after August 1 will see higher penalties.