The exact amount of the increase has not been announced, but the bump could be as much as 80%. The agency must decide by mid-2016. A law passed in 1990 required federal agencies to increase penalties along with inflation, but OSHA was one of a few that won an exemption. The budget bill just signed by President Obama included the little-noticed provision allowing the increase, something Democrats have been seeking for years. Even with the increases, however, OSHA penalties will be much lower than those issued by other federal regulatory agencies. And the new provision will not include higher penalties for violations resulting in a worker's death. Labor and safety advocates welcomed the higher penalties. Industry representatives said they were concerned the higher fines would be a burden to small business owners.
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