The 10 Highest OSHA Fines of 2019 – and New Penalties for 2020

Electrical, Industrial / Construction, Material Handling / Crane, Personal Protective Equipment, Safety News

Federal OSHA issued some hefty fines in 2019. The top fine was more than $1.7 million, and the top 10 fines together totaled more than $9.7 million. Add the next five highest fines and the total jumps to more than $12 million. The number of fines seem to be on the rise – and fine amounts for 2020 have increased, as well.

New OSHA Penalty Amounts for 2020

The Department of Labor is required to adjust the maximum penalties for inflation by January 15 of each year. The new maximum OSHA civil penalties in 2020 will be:

  2019 Penalties 2020 Penalties
Other than Serious Violations: $13,260 $13,494
Serious Violations: $13,260 $13,494
Repeat Violations: $132,598 $134,937
Willful Violations: $132,598 $134,937
Failure to Abate (Per Day): $13,260 $13,494

The new OSHA penalty amounts are applicable to OSHA citations issued after January 15, 2020, for violations occurring after July 15, 2019.

 

Top 10 OSHA Fines of 2019

Here are details on the top OSHA fines of 2019.

#1: $1.7 million and grand jury charges for a Maine roofing contractor after a fatal fall

In June, OSHA cited Shawn D. Purvis, owner of Purvis Home Improvement Co. Inc. for numerous egregious willful, repeat and serious workplace safety violations. He faces a total of $1,792,726 in penalties. Inspectors found that he knowingly failed to ensure the use of fall protection at two worksites. Due to his knowledge of the hazard and required safeguards, along with an extensive history of violations since 2006. A Portland grand jury indicted Purvis for manslaughter and workplace manslaughter, charging that his repeated violations of OSHA’s fall protection standards caused his employee’s death. Read more.

#2: $1,591,176 and SVEP after 4 fatalities in an Illinois chemical plant explosion

OSHA cited AB Specialty Silicones LLC in October for 12 willful safety violations after four employees suffered fatal injuries in an explosion and fire at a Waukegan, Illinois, plant in May. OSHA placed the silicon chemical products manufacturer in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program. Investigators determined the company failed to ensure that electrical equipment and installations in the plant complied with OSHA electrical standards and were approved for hazardous locations. The company also used forklifts powered by liquid propane to transport volatile flammable liquids, and operated the forklifts in areas where employees handled and processed volatile flammable liquids and gases, creating the potential for ignition. Read the citations here.

#3: $1.3 Million and SVEP for willful hazard exposures at an Ohio metal treatment company

In March, OSHA proposed penalties of $1,326,367 to Dowa THT America Inc. after the company exposed employees to atmospheric, thermal, electrical and mechanical hazards as they performed maintenance inside heat-treating furnaces. OSHA also placed the company in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program. OSHA cited 25 willful, serious and other-than-serious violations for hazards related to confined spaces, falls, machine guarding, respiratory protection, chemical exposures and electrical equipment. The company also failed to provide adequate personal protective equipment and train their employees on hazards in the facility. See details.

#4: $898,682 for storage violations at Idaho Dollar Tree Stores

OSHA cited Dollar Tree Stores at four Idaho locations in September for exposing employees to unsafe storage of merchandise, and blocked walkways and exit routes. Inspectors initially responded to a complaint that a Dollar Tree store in Boise was exposing employees to unstable stacks and piles of boxes in the store’s stockroom. Soon after, OSHA received another complaint about similar conditions in three other stores. In one store, inspectors found an employee who suffered injury and needed help when boxes fell. In another location, a stack of boxes fell and nearly injured an employee while inspectors were present. They also learned that falling boxes had injured other employees. OSHA cited violations related to blocked aisles and exit routes, unsafe storage and stacking of boxes, blocked electrical panels, improper use of a ladder, and exposing workers to falls from heights. Dollar Tree Stores have been cited numerous times across the country for such hazards. View the citations.

#5: $782,526 and SVEP for repeat machine hazards at a Wisconsin cookie dough manufacturer

In August, Choice Products USA LLC was cited for continually exposing employees to machine safety hazards and placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program. Inspectors cited five egregious willful violations for failing to implement and train employees on lockout/tagout procedures. The company also failed to install machine guarding and comply with forklift regulations. Similar citations were issued in 2016. Review the citations.

#6: $724,380 for repeat critical safety violations at an Ohio auto glass plant

Fuyao Glass America Inc. was cited in July for exposing employees to multiple safety and health hazards at its Moraine, Ohio, production plant. OSHA initiated an inspection under the Agency’s Site-Specific Targeting program, and cited nine repeat and 13 serious violations, including electrical safety violations and failing to evaluate the workplace to determine permit-required confined spaces; train employees on lockout/tag out and entering confined spaces; install machine guarding; provide hearing protection; provide personal protective equipment, and require the use of fall protection. OSHA has inspected the Fuyao plant 12 times in the past
four years. View the safety citations and health citations.

#7: $687,650 for machine guard and fall protection violations at a Pennsylvania manufacturer

OSHA initiated an inspection at Champion Modular, Inc. after an employee suffered an amputation in November 2018. In May, the Agency issued willful and serious citations for failing to use machine guarding, provide fall protection and train workers on hazard communication and hearing. Review the citations.

#8: $687,619 for fatal fall Hhzards at a Delaware worksite

OSHA cited two contractors – Enerfab Process Solutions & Fabricated Products Inc. and Industrial Services Group Inc. (Universal Blastco) – for exposing employees to fall hazards after a fatal injury at a Delaware Port of Wilmington worksite in January. Employees were renovating a 1.5 million gallon above-ground storage tank at an orange juice processing facility when an employee fell 40 feet from a scaffold. OSHA issued willful citations to both companies for hazards involving scaffolding and lack of fall protection; and serious citations for electrical, confined space, and respiratory protection violations. Review Enerfab citations and Blastco citations.

#9: $615,640 for hazardous chemical exposure at a Texas meat-packing plant

in may, OSHA cited 7S Packing LLC – operating as Texas Packing Company in San Angelo, Texas – for exposing workers to releases of hazardous chemicals. The facility failed to implement a required Process Safety Management (PSM) program for operating an ammonia refrigeration unit containing over 10,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia. The employer also failed to provide fall protection, guard machines and equipment, control hazardous energy and implement a respiratory protection program. Read the citations.

#10: $603,850 for fall hazards by a Pennsylvania framing contractor

Navy Contractors, Inc. was cited for willfully exposing employees to fall hazards at three residential construction sites in Pennsylvania. OSHA initiated inspections after inspectors saw employees performing framing work without fall protection and cited the company for failing to provide fall protection equipment and training, improper use of ladders, deficiencies in walking/working surfaces and inadequate fire protection. Read more.

 

The next five-highest OSHA fines of 2019 were:

  • $551,226 and SVEP for fatal confined space violations at a Pennsylvania railcar service company
  • $530,392 and SVEP for machine guard and caught-in hazards at a Texas rubber company
  • $509,071 Agreement for Trenching Hazard Violations by a Michigan Pipeline Company
  • $507,299 and SVEP for fall, struck-by and burn hazards at a Georgia tire manufacturer
  • $460,316 for silica, fall and other hazards at a New York foundry