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Employers cited $40,000 or more in an inspection since January 1, 2015, are posted on OSHA’s website, and now that list of inspections has passed the 10,000 mark. The agency calls these “high-penalty cases,” and we calculate there were 108 high-penalty cases per month on average through mid-August 2022, a span of 7 years and 8.5 months. That averages to about 1,300 high-penalty cases per year.

Highest of the high-penalty inspections

While OSHA’s total penalty amounts can and have pushed into the tens of millions of dollars for a single inspection, the highest figures for a single inspection since 2015 include:

  1. $2.89 million for an auto parts manufacturer in Ohio;
  2. $2.51 million for an auto parts manufacturer in Alabama;
  3. $2.04 million for a fruit farm in Washington state;
  4. $1.92 million for an aluminum extruded product manufacturer in New Jersey;
  5. $1.85 million for a long-distance trucking company in Washington state;
  6. $1.85 million for a dairy company in Washington state;
  7. $1.84 million for a flour milling company in Wisconsin;
  8. $1.79 million for a roofing construction contractor in Illinois;
  9. $1.77 million for a furniture manufacturer in Wisconsin; and
  10. $1.59 million for a silicone materials wholesaler in Illinois.

Most inspections did not reach millions of dollars

However, a majority of inspections on the list were under $100,000 in total initial penalties as shown below:

  • 65.6 percent had initial penalties ranging from $40,000 to under $75,000;
  • 13.4 percent had initial penalties ranging from $75,000 to under $100,000;
  • 15.8 percent had initial penalties ranging from $100,000 to under $200,000;
  • 4.6 percent had initial penalties ranging from $200,000 to under $500,000;
  • 0.4 percent had initial penalties ranging from $500,000 to under $1 million; and
  • 0.2 percent had initial penalties ranging from $1 million to over $2.89 million.

States with the most high-penalty cases

States with the top number of cases at or over $40K include:

  1. California with about 1,500 cases;
  2. Ohio with about 950 cases;
  3. New Jersey with about 800 cases;
  4. Texas with about 760 cases;
  5. Illinois with about 580 cases;
  6. Georgia with about 430 cases;
  7. Florida with about 420 cases;
  8. New York with about 410 cases;
  9. Pennsylvania with about 330 cases; and
  10. Washington with about 320 cases.

Search tool has several sorting fields

The source of this data — OSHA’s “Enforcement Cases with Initial Penalties of $40,000 or Above” tool — comes in a table or map view. The table can be sorted by:

  • Initial penalty amount,
  • Date,
  • State,
  • City,
  • Inspection case number, and
  • Employer name.

“Initial penalty” amounts are not necessarily the final or current penalty amounts. Therefore, hypothetically, some cases might have ended up with a final total penalty under $40,000. Also, some employers are listed in the tool more than once, depending on how many penalty cases at or over $40,000 they had.

While a few cases from 2014 slipped into the tool, OSHA explains that the data covers cases from January 1, 2015, to the present. A disclaimer on the tool explains that it is updated weekly, except there’s a posting delay to ensure the parties have been notified. This delay appears to be a little over two weeks.

Key to remember

OSHA posts cases with initial penalties of $40,000 or more on the agency’s website. The data goes all the way back to January 1, 2015. Just recently, the number of these high-penalty cases passed the 10,000 inspections count.