Contributed by Matthew Horn, September 30, 2021
In an aggressive effort to pressure employers into complying with the Biden Administration’s promised vaccine mandate, House Democrats buried an approximate five-fold increase to OSHA fines in their $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill, seeking to increase the maximum fines for a “serious” citations from $13,653 to $70,000 and for “repeat” and “willful” citations from $136,530 to $700,000. The incredible fine increase stems from OSHA’s concern that employers are ignoring its COVID-19 guidance and standards because the risk of non-compliance is less than the cost of compliance. OSHA apparently intends to address that concern by going after non-compliant employers with unprecedented fines.
Hopefully, the bill ultimately passed does not include the increased OSHA fines outlined, and we will keep you informed on that issue as the bill progresses. Regardless, employers should prepare now for an extremely aggressive OSHA largely focused on COVID-19 enforcement and making headlines.