OSHA’s Penalties Continue Their Climb In 2024

At the beginning of 2023, the Biden Administration made additional changes to its enforcement policies with the stated intent to increase overall penalties for violations of its regulations. In essence, the instance-by-instance changes are designed to have each alleged violation itemized in a citation so that the maximum penalty for each one can be applied. This change differs from OSHA’s historical approach, which was to group the same or similar violations together with a single proposed penalty. These changes coupled with the updated and expanded Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP) which lowered the bar for consideration of SVEP status has formed the new enforcement philosophy of OSHA.


The fiscal year 2023 enforcement statistics have been released, and they show an increase in enforcement from 2022 to 2023. The number of inspections increased to 34,229, the most since 2016.  OSHA issued citations with initial penalties of more than $1 million to at least four companies and issued initial penalties of $100,000 to 391 employers, an increase from the 343 issued in 2022. Both the penalties themselves and the number of citations with significant initial penalties mark an increase from prior years so the trend in obtaining higher penalties is very apparent.


OSHA also launched or continued several emphasis programs and enforcement efforts and several of them can involve printing operations. They are targeting warehouses and distribution centers, heat illness, and amputations. Hazards in warehouses and distribution centers targeted by the NEP include struck-by hazards; caught-in and caught-between hazards; slip, trip, and fall hazards; blocked aisles; means of egress; powered industrial trucks and other material-handling equipment; heat hazards; and ergonomic hazards. Amputation prevention is focused on machine guarding and lockout/tagout compliance programs.


Given the increased focus on enforcement, the penalties that OSHA can impose become important and they have been increasing them every year for quite a few years. The 2015 Inflation Adjustment Act requires OSHA to annually adjust its civil money penalty levels for inflation no later than January 15 of each year. Therefore, on January 16, 2024, Federal OSHA will increase the maximum penalty an employer can be issued for violations. OSHA annually increases its penalty amounts to adjust for inflation as mandated by the law. The increase for 2024 is keeping pace with inflation at 3.2 percent.


The new penalty levels will apply to all violations occurring after January 16, 2024. The following chart compares penalties in effect January 17, 2023, to the new penalties effective January 16, 2024.


One key question you need to ask yourself for 2024 is – Are you prepared for an OSHA inspection? PRINTING United Alliance has developed many resources designed to make OSHA compliance much easier. Plus, there are now several safety courses available on iLEARNING+ addressing machine guarding and Lockout/Tagout that will help serve as a strong foundation for your safety program.


In this article, Gary Jones, VP of EHS Affairs, PRINTING United Alliance, addresses OSHA compliance. More information about OSHA can be found at Business Excellence-EHS Affairs  or reach out to Gary should you have additional questions specific to how these issues may affect your business: gjones@printing.org.   
To become a member of the Alliance and learn more about how our subject matter experts can assist your company with services and resources such as those mentioned in this article, please contact the Alliance membership team: 888-385-3588 /

Gary Jones Vice President of Environmental, Health, and Safety Affairs

Gary A. Jones is the Vice President of Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) Affairs at PRINTING United Alliance in Fairfax, VA. His primary responsibility is to monitor and analyze EHS regulatory activities at all domestic and some international government levels. He provides representation on behalf of the printing and specialty graphic imaging industry. Mr. Jones works closely with the federal and state-level Environmental Protection Agencies (EPA), Occupational Safety and Health Agency (OSHA), Department of Transportation (DOT), and other agencies. He also provides membership assistance on EHS compliance and sustainability programs through a variety of approaches including responding to inquiries, presentations, writing, and consulting services.

He holds a BS in biology from LaRoche College and an MS in chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh.

Speaking Topics:

  • Regulatory compliance and sustainability
  • Webinars on a wide variety of EHS related topics
  • Customized seminars and workshops, including: Compliance Today, Beyond Compliance Tomorrow, OSHA Compliance Essentials, and Hazardous Waste Boot Camp
  • Two-day workshops Environmental Compliance for Printers and OSHA Compliance for Printing