Being unsafe just got more expensive.

In the first increase in 26 years, Occupational Safety and Health Administration fines just went up 78 percent.

Last year, OSHA levied $2.5 million in initial fines in Maine.

The increase was prompted by Congress, which told agencies such as OSHA to increase fine amounts annually for inflation going forward, according to a U.S. Department of Labor news release.

The maximum penalty for a serious violation increased from $7,000 to $12,471 on Aug. 1. 

Maximum penalties for a “willful or repeated” violation increased from $70,000 to $124,709.

In 2015, 408 inspections statewide led to violations being discovered at 287 inspection sites, according to the Augusta office of OSHA. That led to $2.5 million in initial penalties.

The Maine Department of Labor encouraged businesses Tuesday to take advantage of its free SafetyWorks! program to help flag and reduce workplace hazards and prep for inspections.

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