OSHA Announces Annual Adjustments to OSHA Civil Penalties for 2023

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has changed civil penalty amounts based on cost-of-living adjustments for 2023.

OSHA's maximum penalties for serious and other-than-serious violations will increase from $14,502 per violation to $15,625 per violation. The maximum penalty for willful or repeated violations will increase from $145,027 per violation to $156,259 per violation.

Also, OSHA will apply Instance-by-Instance Penalty Adjustments (IBI) in appropriate cases to achieve a deterrent effect. The scope of this guidance is limited to high-gravity serious violations specific to falls, trenching, machine guarding, respiratory protection, permit required confined space, lockout tagout, and other-than-serious violations specific to recordkeeping. The scope applies to general industry, agriculture, maritime, and construction industries. This guidance becomes effective March 26, 2023.

Based upon this information, OSHA may use each incidence of a specific violation to enhance the monetary penalty. OSHA is reminding its Regional Administrators and Area Directors of their authority not to group violations, and instead cite them separately to more effectively encourage employers to comply with the intent of the OSH Act.  The Field Operations Manual (FOM Chapter 4-ViolationsSection X. Combining and Grouping Violations) and several other compliance directives provide scenarios where grouping violations should normally be considered. Grouping is appropriate when the same abatement measures correct multiple violations and/or when substantially similar violative conduct or conditions giving rise to the violations is involved. Grouping violations should be considered when:

  • Two or more serious or other-than-serious violations constitute a single hazardous condition that is overall classified by the most serious item
  • Grouping two or more other-than-serious violations considered together create a substantial probability of death or serious physical harm, or
  • Grouping two or more other-than-serious violations results in a high gravity other-than serious violation

In cases where grouping does not elevate the gravity or classification and resulting penalty, then violations should not be grouped if the evidence allows for separate citations. In situations where an existing directive encourages grouping, discretion may be used to cite separately, such as but not limited to, in cases where violations have differing abatement methods, each violative condition may result in death or serious physical harm, and each violative condition exposes workers to a related but different hazard. Area Offices shall document decisions not to group violations in the case file when discretion is used to achieve an additional deterrent effect.

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