The White House Office of Management & Budget (OMB) has begun review of the Labor Department’s draft interim final rule that will allow the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) to increase penalties for a host of workplace safety requirements by as much as 82 percent. Under a stipulation in the omnibus budget bill signed by President Obama late last year, the interim final rule must be promulgated by Aug. 1.

Included in the rule is language that authorizes OSHA to increase penalties for alleged willful, repeat and violations of its standards and to establish a mechanism for annual adjustments. “The new penalties are already sparking fears from industry leaders who warn that the increases, together with recent administration efforts to step up criminal enforcement of workplace safety requirements, could result in significant new liability for employers.” 

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