DoL Announces New OSHA Debt Collection Initiative

Aimed to collect citation penalties more efficiently, it centers on getting notifications to employers faster.

Osh Ae

WASHINGTON, DC — The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) today announced a new initiative designed to better collect citation penalties.

OSHA is implementing a series of three penalty payment letters to be sent seven, 30 and 60 days after an establishment fails to timely pay a penalty based on a final order. In addition, OSHA will contact establishments by phone 14 days after the payment comes due. Establishments that pay their penalties by their due date will not receive the new letters or phone call.

If an establishment fails to make a civil monetary penalty payment from an inspection resulting in a citation, and is not on an affordable payment plan, OSHA will place the establishment on a priority list for further inspection. In addition, OSHA compliance safety and health officers will gather employer identification numbers (EIN) as part of the pre-inspection preparation.

“These steps will enhance the effectiveness of OSHA’s enforcement program,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia. “The Department will ensure that firms with safety and health violations are held accountable and pay their debts to the United States Government.”

OSHA’s initiative is part of broader efforts across the U.S. Department of Labor. Today, the Department announced a final rule intended to improve the Department’s debt-collection policy. The rule, which builds on a June 2020 Secretary’s Order to improve Department’s collection of delinquent debts and enhance the deterrence and effectiveness of the Department’s enforcement programs, encourages second and subsequent demand letters to be sent more rapidly. Prior to this final rule, the existing rule provided that “second and subsequent demands shall generally be made at 30-day intervals from the first.” Today’s final rule amends the current rule to more clearly allow agency heads or their designees to send demand letters at intervals separated by less than 30 days.

“By getting demand letters out with quicker action, the Department will maximize collections of delinquent debts owed to the Government,” said Chief Financial Officer James Williams. “The Department owes it to the public to ensure we are doing everything possible to hold violators accountable for their actions.”

“Expediting the notifications to employers who have not paid OSHA fines will work to improve OSHA’s enforcement presence,” said Loren Sweatt, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health. “At the conclusion of an OSHA inspection where a final order is issued, employers must abate hazards to protect workers and pay assessed civil monetary penalties.”

More