U.S. Department of Labor

Occupational Safety and Health Administration
Washington, D.C. 20210
Reply to the attention of:

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DOL-OSHA-DEP-2021-001 - This document does not have the force and effect of law and is not meant to bind the public in any way. This document is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies.

January 8, 2021

MEMORANDUM FOR:
REGIONAL ADMINISTRATORS
THROUGH:
AMANDA EDENS
Deputy Assistant Secretary
FROM:
PATRICK J. KAPUST, Acting Director
Directorate of Enforcement Programs
SUBJECT:
2021 Annual Adjustments to OSHA Civil Penalties
  1. Purpose.

    The penalty information included in this memorandum is intended to supplement the penalties and debt collection information found in Chapter 6 of the Field Operations Manual (FOM). Tables included in this memorandum reflect penalty amounts for calendar year 2021 and correspond to adjusted penalty amounts found in OSHA Information Systems (OIS). OSHA updates this information annually to ensure access to current penalty information.
     
  2. Background.

    On November 2, 2015, the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015 was enacted, which further amended the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990 as previously amended by the 1996 Debt Collection Improvement Act (collectively, the “Prior Inflation Adjustment Act”), to improve the effectiveness of civil monetary penalties and maintain their deterrent effect. The Inflation Adjustment Act required agencies to: (1) adjust the level of civil monetary penalties with an initial “catch-up” adjustment through an interim final rule and (2) make subsequent annual adjustments for inflation, no later than January 15 of each year.

    The cost-of-living adjustment multiplier for 2021, based on the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers for October 2020 (not seasonally adjusted), is 1.01182. To compute the 2021 annual adjustment, the Department multiplied the most recent penalty amount for each applicable penalty by the multiplier, 1.01182, and rounded to the nearest dollar. The adjustment factor of 1.01182 is consistent across the minimum and maximum penalties set forth in the Occupational Safety and Health Act and the FOM.
     
  3. Minimum and Maximum Penalty Amounts.

    Table 1 summarizes the minimum and maximum amounts for proposed civil penalties:

    Table 1: Maximum and Minimum Amounts for Civil Penalties

    Table 1: Maximum and Minimum Amounts for Civil Penalties
    Type of Violation Penalty Minimum Penalty Maximum
    Serious $964 per violation $13,653 per violation
    Other-Than-Serious $0 per violation $13,653 per violation
    Willful or Repeated $9,639 per violation $136,532 per violation
    Posting Requirements $0 per violation $13,653 per violation
    Failure to Abate N/A $13,653 per day unabated beyond the abatement date [generally limited to 30 days maximum]
  4. Gravity Based Penalty Amounts.

    The gravity of a violation is defined by the Gravity Based Penalty (GBP).
    • A high gravity violation is one with a GBP of $13,653.
    • A moderate gravity violation is one with the GBP ranging from $7,802 to $11,703.
    • A low gravity violation is one with a GBP of $5,851.

    For serious violations, the GBP shall be assigned on the basis of the following scale in Table 2:
    Severity + Probability = GBP

    Table 2: Serious Violations

    Table 2: Serious Violations
    Severity Probability GBP Gravity OIS Code
    High Greater $13,653 High 10
    Medium Greater $11,703 Moderate 5
    Low Greater $9,753 Moderate 5
    High Lesser $9,753 Moderate 5
    Medium Lesser $7,802 Moderate 5
    Low Lesser $5,851 Low 1

    For other-than-serious violations, only minimal severity is assigned.

    Table 3: Other-Than-Serious Violations

    Table 3: Other-Than-Serious Violations
    Severity Probability GBP
    Minimal Greater $1,000 - $13,653
    Minimal Lesser $0
  5. Serious Willful Penalty Reductions.

    The reduction factor for history shall be applied as usual. The reduction factors for size for serious willful violations shall be applied as shown in Tables 4:

    Table 4: Serious Willful Penalty Reductions

    Table 4: Serious Willful Penalty Reductions
    Employees Percent reduction
    10 or fewer 80
    11-20 60
    21-30 50
    31-40 40
    41-50 30
    51-100 20
    101-250 10
    251 or more 0

    If you have any questions regarding the above, please contact Arthur Buchanan in the Directorate of Enforcement Programs at (202) 693-1850.