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OSHA’s Biggest Fines: Top Enforcement Cases

Workplace safety should not be ignored to protect employees and to keep the organization running as expected. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is an organization that regulates and enforces safety standards in the workplace throughout the US. If a company feels they need to meet the safety standards they will face huge fines.  

This article focuses on the main strong cases that caused severe breaches according to the size of business entities, including industries, corporations, and relevant circumstances. Using a case study will enable companies and their employees to identify and prevent slipping into safety parameters and facing huge losses.

Industries with High Penalties

Some industries over the years had more OSHA safety violations recorded during the enforcement processes and had to pay hefty fines.

Oil and Gas:

The largest sanctions in the oil and gas industry was on BP Products North America Inc., which got an order to pay $81,340,000, the largest so far. The chemical industry is famous for its usual hazards like explosion hazards, poor process safety management, and work environments that are not safe.

Chemical Manufacturing:

In the chemical production field, there are numerous fines received by Arco Chemical Co. with $3,481,300 realized total in fines. Violations often occur due to chemical hazards, ineffective protective equipment, and unsuitable emergency response.


High fines are regularly faced by the contracting industry. To illustrate, Keystone Construction Company was penalized with $6,623,000 for fall hazards, inadequate training, and not preventing employees from falling, being struck, crashing, or being caught in harm. Many building or construction company breaches involve dangerous scaffolding, absent fall protection, and unsanitary conditions.

Regulatory Agencies that are Involved

There are several regulatory agencies that oversee the workplace incidents and keeps a check over the companies.


The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the leading actor in ensuring safe workplaces. OSHA defines and controls standards, and also provides training and assistance. OSHA imposed a $81,340,000 penalty on BP Products North America Inc. for safety violations.  


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) focuses on the protection of the environment. EPA working with OSHA tries to solve issues on environmental problems and hazards. For instance, EPA imposed  a $900,000 penalty against Freedom Industries Inc. for chemical spills. 


The department of justice prosecutes criminal cases related to employment and environmental standards, many of which are brought by OSHA and EPA on a referred basis.

Reasons for Severe Penalties

Several factors and violations are responsible for heavy penalties in OSHA enforcement cases.

Safety Violations:

Severe safety violations frequently lead to heavy penalties being imposed. BP Products North America Inc. was fined $21,361,500 in particular for recurring safety infractions, which included failing to implement standard safety management procedures. A $3.1 million punishment was levied against E.I. DuPont De Nemours & Co. for violating the risk management programme of the US EPA. Risks of chemical exposure and inadequate provision of protective gear for workers are among these infractions.

Environmental Impact:

Toxins found in the environment are another reason for extremely severe penalties. Freedom Industries Inc. was fined $900,000 for a chemical discharge that contaminated nearby water sources, as was previously noted. This illustrates the serious consequences of environmental carelessness.

Recurrence of Violations:

Recurrence of violations generally results in bigger fines. As another example, Dollar Tree Stores Inc. received huge fines for several repeated violations such as obstructed exits and inappropriate storage, implying that not following safety rules can be very expensive.

Impact on Workplace Safety

Large penalties greatly influence safety at places of work.  


Penalties act as a deterrent by discouraging unacceptable approaches. Companies get strict to prevent future similar consequences. 

Policy Changes:

Fines usually drive modifications in work environment rules and make companies check and improve their safety processes, which in turn prevents violations. 

Public Awareness:

Public shaming raises the public awareness of safety issues that in turn pushes employers and employees to prioritize safety and obey regulations thereby creating a culture of safety in workplaces.

Lessons Learned

Cases on top enforcement teach businesses effective safety measures and expression of violations. 

Importance of Compliance:

Besides, the safety regulations will have to be strictly followed. Business entities that promote health and safety standards not only escape costly fines, but they make sure that they are helping the people who are the holders of their bread and butter.. 

Proactive Measures:

To address this problem, companies can take proactive steps, say training programs about safety or conducting regular hazard checks, to minimize the chances of accidents and violations. Although safety management is a proactive measure, it limits the risk of fatalities not only among workers but also prevents companies from being penalized. 

Continuous Improvement:

Vigilant observation of safety indicates that it is crucial for the remediation. Companies need to routinely assess the effectiveness of safety protocols to incorporate recent safety standards and address newly identified risks. It constitutes an environment that is proactive on safety and lowers the probability of succeeding violations.

Recent Trends in Enforcement Cases

Analysis of current OSHA enforcement cases demonstrates how the safety standards are evolving. 

Increased Penalties:

The amount of the penalties has increased significantly, with BP’s record fine of $81,340,000 being a case in point. This is a reflection of OSHA’s commitment to ensure that the safety regulations are enforced strongly. 

Focus on HighRisk Industries:

OSHA on the other hand goes further to focus on industries with high risk like oil and gas (BP and some others have been fined heavily) as well as construction companies. 

Emphasis on Employee Training:

The recent cases emphasize the significance of employee training, which is why Dollar Tree Stores Inc. was fined $13.1 million since 2018 during 360 inspections. This is because of their inadequate training and regular violations of OSHA standards.


Overall, OSHA’s most memorable enforcement cases emphasize the significance of safety at the workplace; compliance; and prevention. Large fines themselves serve as a deterrent as well as emphasize the necessity of further improvements. The first thing to do to provide safe working conditions is to give priority to safety and follow the prescriptions. 

The OSHA severe violator enforcement program and OSHA enforcement database can be used to keep a track and tackle these violations very efficiently.