For the first time in 25 years, OSHA fines will increase dramatically in 2016

On November 2, 2015, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 (H.R. 1314) was signed by President Obama, ensuring that the federal government will have a budget in place for the next two years.  Great news for anyone concerned that budget woes could result in a government shutdown—bad news for OSHA violators at risk for citations.

OSHA civil penalties “catch up adjustment” in 2016

Buried within H.R. 1314 in a section titled “Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015” is legislation that will increase penalties cited by OSHA for the first time in 25 years.  Since 1990, OSHA has been exempt from adjusting civil penalty amounts to keep pace with inflation, but the newly signed bill removes this exemption. This means that OSHA will be required to make adjustments to civil penalties every five years like most federal agencies; however, a significant increase of the agency’s fines will come much sooner.  A clause in the Bill requires OSHA to make a “catch up adjustment” through an interim final rulemaking by August 1, 2016.

Industry experts have reviewed the Consumer Price Index (CPI) values for inflation since 1990 and predict that the initial adjustment could increase penalty amounts by as much as 70 to 80 percent above current rates. The exact amounts will be unknown until OSHA issues their interim final rulemaking, which may occur early in 2016 well in advance of the August 1st deadline.  An electronic copy of the budget bill, H.R. 1314, can be viewed here:

Is your workplace at risk to the increased fines due to OSHA HCS 2012 non-compliance?

As we approach the end of 2015 the next OSHA Hazard Communication Standard (HCS 2012) deadline will be here before you know it.  After December 1, 2015, chemical distributors should only be shipping materials labeled in compliance with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemical (GHS) requirements of HCS 2012.

If you find yourself questioning whether or not you are in compliance with the HCS 2012/GHS requirements, or you simply want to strengthen your knowledge on the topic, a great place to start is Labelmaster’s dedicated website located at  Here you will find abundant free information in the form of webinar videos and educational links, as well as a White Paper titled “GHS Impact on U.S. Chemical Manufacturers: Regulatory Changes and Practical Guidance.” In addition to this, a diverse line of training tools/materials and HCS 2012/GHS labels and products can be found at

Labelmaster is a full service provider of goods and services for the Hazardous Materials and Dangerous Goods professional, shippers, transport operators, and EH&S providers. See our full line of solutions at


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One Comment;

  1. Sean Martinez said:

    OSHA specified June 1, 2016 as the cut off date for compliances to the newly specified norms. These are quite detailed and require an expert to interpret and understand the requirements and then prepare SDS that fully complies with regulations. A company may think of in-house authorizing of SDS (icsds).

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