OSHA's maximum penalties to increase Aug. 1, 2016

Higher maximum penalties for Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) violations will take effect by Aug. 1, 2016.

A provision increasing OSHA fines was included in the budget agreement (H.R. 1314) passed by Congress at the end of October. President Obama signed the bill into law Nov. 2, enabling OSHA to increase its maximum penalties for the first time since 1990.

David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for OSHA, has repeatedly emphasized the importance of increasing the maximum fines since taking his post in 2010. While addressing a House of Representatives subcommittee in October, Michaels said: "The most serious obstacle to effective OSHA enforcement of the law is the very low level of civil penalties allowed under our law, as well as our weak criminal sanctions.