Get Our Email Newsletter

OSHA Penalty Increases Could Significantly Impact Retail Safety Programs

Retailers should brace themselves for some important developments that are likely to arrive in 2016. Changes are taking place that can have a significant impact on retail safety programs and the potential penalties for safety violations in retail stores and other workplace facilities.

Recent developments would suggest that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the primary federal agency charged with assuring safe and healthful working conditions and enforcing various workplace standards is likely to make some revisions that will likely influence our retail safety programs, workplace safety investigations, and the potential penalties that may occur in the event of violations.

Penalties for OSHA violations have not increased since 1990, however that is likely to change in the coming months. On November 2, 2015, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 was signed into law. Part of that legislation is the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015 (the 2015 Adjustment Act). The Act removes the OSHA exemption to the requirement that civil monetary penalties be periodically increased to account for inflation.

- Digital Partner -

As a result of the legislation, the new law entitles OSHA to a single “catch up” penalty increase to account for the lack of periodic penalty increases that have not occurred over the past 25 years. Based on these adjustments potential penalties for safety violations could make an astronomical jump, increasing by as much as 80 percent according to several reports. Changes are to take place no later than August 1, 2016.

While the statutory increase outlined in federal OSHA legislation may not directly impact state OSHA programs—whose maximum penalties are set by state law, this federal increase is expected to lead to state increases as well. State plans must be “at least as effective” as those of the federal OSHA program, and lower state maximum penalties would not likely be seen as “effective” as federal maximums.

OSHA Standards

OSHA establishes protective standards, provides enforcement for those standards, and reaches out to both employers and employees to offer training and consultation programs, technical assistance and performance incentives. The focus of OSHA is to guard employee safety and health by working with employers and employees to create better and safer working environments. They drive to accomplish agency objectives by stimulating management commitment and employee participation in comprehensive retail safety programs.

OSHA is authorized to conduct workplace inspections and investigations to determine whether employers are complying with standards for safe workplaces. Inspections are typically conducted by OSHA compliance officers without advance notice; although there are some circumstances under which OSHA may give notice to the employer. Inspections can be conducted for a number of different reasons. While routine inspections that are more general in nature do occur, often inspections are prompted by a specific action, incident or complaint. After the inspection process is completed, OSHA will issue a Citation and Notification of Penalty for any alleged violations.

Taking Proactive Steps

Every retail organization should always strive to provide a safe and healthy workplace, and such legislation should simply serve as a reminder of our commitment to a retail environment that is safe for both our customers and employees. Establishing a culture of safety, a robust retail safety program and a company-wide commitment to safety should always remain a top priority. Company management should always be leading the way, but participation in the retail safety program at all levels is critical. Safety training, workplace audits, written policies, a system of employee discipline and eliciting feedback from employees should always be part of the program.

Loss Prevention Magazine updates delivered to your inbox

Get the free daily newsletter read by thousands of loss prevention professionals, security, and retail management from the store level to the c-suite.

What's New

Digital Partners

Become a Digital Partner

Violence in the Workplace

Download this 34-page special report from Loss Prevention Magazine about types and frequency of violent incidents, impacts on employees and customers, effectiveness of tools and training, and much more.


View All | Sponsor a Webinar


View All | Submit a Whitepaper

LP Solutions

View All | Submit Your Content

Loss Prevention Media Logo

Stay up-to-date with our free email newsletter

The trusted newsletter for loss prevention professionals, security and retail management. Get the latest news, best practices, technology updates, management tips, career opportunities and more.

No, thank you.

View our privacy policy.