The Highest OSHA Fines in U.S. History

Peter Chambers

Feb 24, 2023


We are reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

hat hangs in silence in reflection of the highest OSHA fines in the US

You have probably heard of OSHA but may be unfamiliar with all of the high-profile cases associated with the administration. Here, we will discuss some of the highest OSHA fines to ever exist in U.S. history.

First off, let’s define what OSHA is. President Richard Nixon signed the Occupational Safety and Health Act into law in 1970. OSHA is responsible for cases where injury prevention protocol and health and safety standards need enforcement.

To expand upon this, OSHA fines target broken policies and procedures that resulted in injuries and fatal accidents. Incidents happen, but with safety regulations in place, they are less likely and help avoid situations that can be detrimental to society. 


There are minimum and maximum penalty amounts for each type of violation of OSHA. The type of violations ranges from failure to abate with a 30-day maximum to serious. For reference, the minimum OSHA fine for a serious violation is $1,036 per violation and the maximum amount is $14,502 per violation. The violation types are serious, other than serious, willful or repeated, posting requirements and failure to abate. 

1. Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Deepwater Horizon was an oil drilling rig that operated in the Gulf of Mexico. This drilling rig was the site of the largest oil spill in the history of marine oil drilling operations. Eleven workers on Deepwater Horizon died on April 20, 2010, when the rig exploded and sank. 

There were four million barrels of oil that flowed from the Macondo Prospect in the Gulf of Mexico from this explosion. The oil ran for eighty-seven days before finally stopping on July 15, 2010. In December of the same year, a complaint was filed against BP Exploration & Production and others who were thought to have been responsible for the oil spill. 

There were $8.8 billion in natural resource damages. This penalty holds the record for one of the heftiest OSHA fines to date. BP (British Petroleum) claimed that multiple parties and many safety factors caused this accident.

2. BP Refinery Explosion

On March 23, 2005, there were a series of explosions at an oil refinery in Texas City, Texas. This is the third-largest refinery in the U.S. A distillation tower flooding with hydrocarbons and over-pressurizing caused this series of explosions. This caused the vent stack to shoot out like a geyser

The hydrocarbon isomerization unit was restarting when the explosions began. Work trailers located by the atmospheric vent stack injured and killed workers inside or around them. The blasts wounded one hundred eighty workers, and 15 didn’t make it. BP had 300 violations in this devastating accident that resulted in $21,361,500. 

3. IMC Fertilizer Plant Explosion

In May of 1991, a chemical nitroparaffin plant in Sterlington, LA, caught fire and exploded. The explosion caused eight deaths and 42 injuries. There was extensive damage in the area that resulted in an evacuation of the town. 

The fertilizer plant explosion resulted in a $10 million fine from OSHA. Angus Chemical Co. owned the fertilizer plant, but IMC Fertilizer Inc. ran it. IMC agreed to pay $9.8 million of the fine, with Angus covering the remaining amount for the penalty. 


The Occupational Safety and Health Act is in place for our protection. Enforcing the policies and practices set in place by OSHA saves lives. If companies or workers choose to disobey these regulations, they are putting themselves and their coworkers in danger and will be fined.

Did you enjoy this post? Join the Renovated community!

A house is more than just where you live. It's where you build a community. We'll give you all the latest trends you need to make your home your haven. Subscribe and never miss out!
Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

About The Author