Top OSHA Issued Penalties

September 17, 2008 4:00 pm EDT

These are the top 25 announced OSHA penalties of all time, as provided by the Department of Labor. We also compiled a list of final penalties – i.e. the amount the fine was reduced to after settlement or appeal – based on OSHA’s own database, administrative court documents and press reports. The Department of Labor was unable to confirm settlement figures.

Company Case Summary Date Issued Initial Penalty Final Penalty Percent Reduction
Fifteen killed, 107 injured in Texas plant explosion. Sept. 21, 2005 -- $21,361,5001 0%
Eight killed, more than 100 injured by chemical explosion. Oct. 31, 1991 $11,550,0002 $10,000,000 13%
Thirteen killed, 40 injured by explosion caused by combustible dust. July 25, 2008 $8,777,500 ? ?
Construction worker died after falling more than 50 feet through unsecured decking. Sept. 21, 1995 $8,260,000 $1,829,000 78%
Six killed, 11 injured by refinery explosion. Aug. 29, 1991 $8,155,0002 $5,800,000 29%
Worker crushed to death while working on a tire-making machine. April 18, 1994 $7,490,000 $518,0003 93%
After 17 worker deaths in 17 years, OSHA investigated and cited several plants for safety violations. Nov. 1, 1989 $7,275,300 $3,250,0004 55%
Twenty-three killed, 130 injured by explosion and fire. April 19, 1990 $6,395,200 $4,100,000 36%
After an explosion, OSHA cited the company for safety and record-keeping violations. Sept. 8, 1993 $6,328,000 $100,000 98%
TPM/Macomber et al. Twenty-eight killed, 16 injured after the L'Ambiance Plaza in Brideport, Conn., collapsed. Oct. 22, 1987 $5,114,000 $430,000 92%
Arcadian Corp. Seven injured after a reactor explosion at a fertilizer manufacturing plant. Jan. 27, 1993 $5,085,500 $50,000 99%
E. Smalis Painting Employees exposed to lead while working on the Tarentum Bridge in Allegheny County, Pa. June 3, 1994 $5,008,500 $2,282,1675 54%
Eight hundred eighty of the plant's 2,000 employees suffered debilitating ergonomic injuries. Oct. 28, 1988 $4,330,000 $990,000 77%
Employees exposed to asbestos as company also underreported injuries and illnesses. Nov. 4, 1987 $4,175,940 $650,000 84%
Seven workers hospitalized from a chlorine leak. Sept. 17, 1991 $3,928,500 $1,286,233 67%
OSHA cited the company for unsafe and unsanitary working conditions. July 12, 1996 $3,565,500 $1,882,500 47%
Arco Chemical Co. Seventeen killed, five injured by a chemical explosion. Jan. 3, 1991 -- $3,481,3001 0%
Employee complaint leads to OSHA citing the company for noise and record-keeping violations. Dec. 12, 1989 $3,345,6006 1,500,000 55%
McCrory Stores Two killed, 28 injured in a mall fire. Nov. 7, 1991 $3,188,000 500,000 84%
High number of employees suffered ergonomic injuries. May 11, 1988 $3,139,9006 $532,030 83%
Three killed by a chemical explosion. Nov. 22, 1994 -- $3,017,0001 0%
One killed, 32 injured by an explosion. Sept. 12, 1991 $2,817,5006 $1,496,500 47%
Worker cooked to death inside a giant clothes drier. Aug. 16, 2007 $2,782,000 ? ?
Worker's head crushed by machine. Sept. 26, 1991 $2,780,000 $692,000 75%
OSHA cited the company for ergonomic hazards and record-keeping violations. July 7, 1989 $2,706,800 $2,000,0007 26%
OSHA cited the company for failing to report more than 1,000 injuries and illnesses over a two-year period. July 21, 1987 $2,597,500 $441,150 83%

1Penalties were announced as part of a settlement agreement.
2OSHA immediately settled the case even though it announced both a possible fine and the amount the company would pay as part of a settlement.
3This case is still open and under review by the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC).
4Press reports
5This case is still open and under review by the OSHRC.
6Department of Labor
7OSHA and press reports

Robert Lewis and Krista Kjellman / ProPublica