The Bipartisan Budget Act removes a statutory exemption from penalties under certain statutes, including the Occupational Safety & Health Act, from inflation for civil penalties. Unlike other similar civil penalties in federal law, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) civil penalties have been explicitly exempted from inflation since they were created in 1990. Under the Budget Act, OSHA will now have to report on their adjustment in their annual financial statements and via the Government Accountability Office. The bill also allows the agency to use a “catch up” formula to make up to 150 percent adjustments in the penalty in the first year to meet current inflation levels. The Secretary could limit the increases if there’s a negative economic impact that outweighs benefits and any proposed increase in penalties would go through the formal notice and comment process.
The Senate could vote on the budget bill with the increase in OSHA penalties as early as tomorrow. It is expected to pass the Senate and be signed into law.