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New law increases fines for occupational safety and health violations

SB 592 also gives DCBS additional authority for inspections and investigations.

The Oregon legislature recently passed a law increasing the fines employers must pay if they are found in violation of occupational health and safety requirements. The law also introduced changes to workplace inspections and investigations by the Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS). 

The new law, SB 592, went into effect after it was signed by the governor on May 24. Here’s what you need to know: 

Increased penalties 

The director of DCBS can charge increased civil penalties to employers who violate Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements. Under SB 592:  

  • The maximum civil penalty for each serious or other-than-serious violation is now $15,625. Other-than-serious violations are issued for hazards that would not typically result in serious physical harm. 

  • If a serious violation caused or contributed to the death of an employee, the civil penalty amount can be up to $50,000 for each violation. 
  • If an employer’s willful or repeated violation caused or contributed to the death of an employee, the civil penalty can be up to $250,000 for each willful or repeated violation.  
  • DCBS will consider the employer’s history of violating OSHA requirements to determine whether a violation is repeated. 

Comprehensive inspections 

The director of DCBS has been granted additional authority to order comprehensive inspections based on prior violation history, if a violation caused or contributed to a workplace death, or if a place of employment has three or more repeated or willful violations. 

Annual reporting 

The director of DCBS is required to report to the Oregon Legislature each year about penalties they assessed, appeals that were filed with the department, and inspections they conducted.  

Learn more 

It's always a good time to assess your organization’s safety and health program to address issues before they become incidents. Find topics for safety meetings and learning resources at saif.com/safety. For more information on the impact of the new law, visit Oregon OSHA's violations and penalties resources or read SB 592 in its entirety.