Highest OSHA fines In 2020 (2023)

Although there have been severe challenges in the past year, life (and work) goes on. Like any other organization, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is still working hard. OSHA inspectors are visiting worksites across the US to carry out investigations. And, when they find violations, they continue to levy fines against offenders. So, let’s look at some of the latest (and highest) OSHA fines.

Contents hide table of content

1The Biggest OSHA Violations of Q3 2020

1.1 RES America Construction and RES System 3 LLC

1.2 Chilos Builders

(Video) THE TOP 10 OSHA VIOLATIONS OF 2020 | What you can do to prevent similar citations.

1.3 Wagner Construction

1.5 Land Construction Corp

1.6 Jerry Turnbaugh

1.7 Freddy Acevedo

1.8 Swiss Construction

(Video) Top 6 OSHA Fines for 2022

2 OSHA Maximum Penalties In 2021

3 Conclusion

4 References and Further Reading

Since we don’t have data for Q4 2020 yet, let’s look at Q3. In the summer of 2020 alone, OSHA dealt penalties of more than $125,000 on eight separate occasions. Find out why the agency inspected these workplaces, what happened, and how much it fined them. Here are the eight companies fined more than $125,000 in the third quarter of the past year for violating OSHA’s general requirements, with more detail on the top offenders below.


Location of Violation(s)


Fine Amount

RES America Construction and RES System 3 LLC


5 x Willful5 x Serious4 x Other

$545,674 in total*

Chilos Builders


5 x Willful1 x Repeat2 x Other

$234,360 in total*

Wagner Construction

North Dakota

3 x Willful1 x Serious


K & R Construction


4 x Wilful3 x Serious


Land Construction Corp


1 x Wilful (now deleted)10 x Serious (five now deleted)1 x Repeat

Initially: $191,398Now: $36,900

Jerry Turnbaugh


4 x Wilful


Freddy Acevedo


1 x Wilful6 x Serious


Swiss Construction


3 x Serious (two now deleted)1 x Repeat

Initially: $138,853 in total*Now: $34,005

* Includes more than multiple inspections or multiple related companies on the same site.

The Biggest OSHA Violations of Q3 2020

The highest OSHA fines in the past quarter involved various types of OSHA violations. You will find more information below.

RES America Construction and RES System 3 LLC

One worker was killed and another seriously injured when a trench collapsed on a wind farm site outside of Rainier, Washington. OSHA fined RES America Construction and its subcontractor RES System 3 LLC, both connected to British firm Renewable Energy Systems, a combined $545,674 for a total of 14 violations.

One employee of RES System 3 LLC was in a 15-foot deep trench when it collapsed. Two other workers leaped in to help, but there was a second collapse that also trapped them. One worker was able to free himself and raise the alert. Other employees arrived on the scene and worked to excavate the trapped colleagues in what was still an unprotected trench at the Skookumchuck Wind Farm site.

One of the RES America Construction citations was for failing to ensure the subcontractor had the correct safety program. OSHA cited RES System 3 LLC for violations including “promoting a work policy designed to circumvent” safety regulations and failing to use adequate trench protection.

Chilos Builders

Washington-based framing contractor Chilos Builders picked up citations for eight violations at two different sites in Seattle. The issues revolve around fall protection and it is not the first time that OSHA has had to intervene. Anne Soiza, DLI assistant director for the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) said: “We’ve cited this company for numerous safety violations the past few years, and we’ve told them many times how to protect their workers from falling from elevations.”

(Video) The Top 10 Most-Cited OSHA Violations of 2019

OSHA violations included failure to properly train workers, allowing work to take place near unguarded wall openings, and failing to provide adequate safety rails. Falls are responsible for a large proportion of serious work-related injuries in the US and account for more than a third of fatalities in the construction sector.

As a “severe violator”, there will be regular OSHA inspections of Chilos Builders sites until the administration is satisfied there are no more unsafe conditions.

Wagner Construction

OSHA discovered that Wagner Construction had allowed employees to work in flooded conditions on site in Bismarck, North Dakota without suitable precautions for their safety and failed to remove them from hazardous conditions among other issues.

The fines for the one serious and three willful violations totaled $218,192 and the business is contesting all four citations.

K & R Construction

OSHA found K & R Construction had made four willful and three serious violations, mainly relating to fall protection. They related to an inspection on a site in North Canton, Ohio where the company was working.

Among the issues OSHA uncovered were inadequate fall protection for workers working at heights of above six feet, failing to ensure employees wore adequate head protection, allowed the use of portable ladders that extended less than three feet above the upper landing surface without ensuring correct safety procedures and a lack of training on ladder safety. The general contractor has contested all of the violations.

Improving the safety knowledge of a workforce is part of creating a safety culture. Regular training and toolbox talks form a part of this action. With fall hazards forming one of OSHA’s Fatal Four – the top four causes of fatalities in the construction industry – ensuring that workers know the risks and how to avert them is of paramount importance. This affects workers who use scaffolds, ladders, ropes, and any other device that allows them to carry out their duties at height.

Land Construction Corp

50-year-old Michael Ramos of Fort Wayne, Indiana died after being buried in the stone backfill from a 24-feet deep trench in the city. Ramos was working on a Land Construction Corp project when the trench collapsed on top of him.

OSHA initially cited the utility contractor for one willful, ten serious, and one repeated violation. However, the willful and five of the serious violations have been deleted. The fine was initially posted at $191,398 but was reduced to $36,900 following the deletion.

The fatality is classed as being caused by a Caught-In/Between hazard, which is another of OSHA’s Fatal Four. The administration requires there to be protective systems in place for trenches that are deeper than five feet.

Jerry Turnbaugh

Roofing contractor Jerry Turnbaugh was seen to have failed to provide adequate fall protection on three sites in Pickerington, Ohio. OSHA also found that there was not adequate training for employees on aspects of fall hazards and that the company had not developed or maintained a safety program.

The Dublin, Ohio business fell foul of a local safety focus on fall protection and hazards. Acting OSHA Columbus Area Director David Wilson said about the case,

“A contractor places workers’ lives at risk by allowing them to work at dangerous heights without proper fall protection. Falls are consistently one of OSHA’s most commonly cited hazards. With proper training and appropriate protection, these injuries can be prevented.”

(Video) OSHA's Top 10 Citations for 2020

OSHA fined Jerry Turnbaugh $171,754 for six willful violations.

Freddy Acevedo

OSHA cited Freddy Acevado for one willful and six serious violations in a tragic case that ended in the fatality of one of his employees. The carpenter was installing roofing trusses when the trusses and wall collapsed. He suffered injuries from both the fall and from having building materials fall on him, causing him to be killed.

The incident, at a site in Davenport, Florida, led to civil penalties totaling $165,788. Among the violations were failing to provide adequate training on fall hazards, failing to provide guardrails to protect workers from falls, failing to provide head protection and more.

A daily toolbox talk is a great way to maintain a great safety culture at your facilities. These bite-sized safety talks keep workers up to date with the latest regulations, offer a refresh of the safest ways to work, and give you a chance to remedy hazards and prevent exposure before they cause serious physical harm or fatality.

Swiss Construction

Initially, OSHA presented Swiss Construction with six citations and a fine totaling $138,853 for fall protection issues at two sites in Pataskala, Ohio. The administration found that Swiss Construction had failed to provide the correct rig, failed to implement safety measures such as guardrails and a personal fall arrest system, and failed to instigate employee safety programs.

The company managed to negotiate the total fines down to $34,005, with OSHA deleting two of the three serious violations too.

OSHA Maximum Penalties In 2021

Depending on the type of OSHA violation, the maximum penalty amounts the agency can issue are currently:

  • $13,494 for a serious violation
  • $13,494 for an other-than-serious violation
  • $13,494 for a posting requirement violation
  • $13,494 per day for failure to abate, chargeable from after the abatement date
  • $134,937 for a willful violation
  • $134,937 for a repeat violation

As seen in the above list of fines in Q3 2020, there are occasions when OSHA will place a lower fine than the maximum penalty amounts or negotiate down an initial fine. This can be for a number of reasons, including the seriousness of the incident and the manner in which the company in question deals with the problems and inspection process.

In January 2020, OSHA increased the maximum fines in order to keep pace with annual inflation adjustments and achieve a deterrent effect on violators across the US. The ability to raise maximum penalty levels in line with the consumer price index allows the administration to maintain the effectiveness of civil monetary penalties.


Safety and health violations continue to prove an issue across the construction industry. However, you can make a difference and ensure you work by every OSHA standard relevant to your sector. By implementing ongoing training programs and looking to eliminate workplace hazards, you can run a safe and happy workplace, without risking appearing on a list of the highest OSHA fines this year or in the future. OSHA continues to work hard inspecting workplaces, virus or no virus.

References and Further Reading


What is the highest OSHA fine in history? ›

With a record number of violations stacked against the refinery, OSHA issued the largest fine in history, $81, 340, 000. The blowout caused millions of barrels of oil to spill into the Gulf, endangering thousands of animals and contaminating their habitats.

What is OSHA's most cited violation for 2020? ›

Fall Protection was the most commonly cited OSHA violation of 2020 — and it's been the No. 1 violation for the past 10 years. A lack of fall protection and proper training contributes to dangerous falls, the leading cause of death in the construction industry.

How much money was the largest OSHA fine in 2020? ›

Here are the 10 largest OSHA fines in 2020:
  • DG General, Dracut, MA, $628,411. ...
  • Dollar Tree, Fort Worth, TX, $539,934. ...
  • TPC Group, Houston, $514,692. ...
  • Alpha Technical Services Corp., Pasadena, TX, $499, 134. ...
  • Ferrara Candy Co., Bellwood, IL, $485,008. ...
  • Dollar Tree, Marinette, WI, $477,089.
Dec 28, 2020

Which violation tops OSHA's top 10 most cited violations? ›

Fall Protection – General Requirements

What violation has the largest fine assessment form OSHA? ›

Willful or Repeated

Willful violations are the most serious. The violation occurs when the employer knows there's a risk to employees and does nothing to resolve it.

What is the highest OSHA salary? ›


What are some of the most cited OSHA violations? ›

  • Fall Protection (General) Standard Cited – 1926.501. ...
  • Hazard Communication. Standard Cited – 1910.1200. ...
  • Respiratory Protection. Standard Cited – 1910.134. ...
  • Ladders. Standard Cited – 1926.1053. ...
  • Scaffolding. ...
  • Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout / Tagout) ...
  • Powered Industrial Trucks. ...
  • Fall Protection (Training)

How much did OSHA fine in 2020? ›

WASHINGTON, DC – Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic through Oct. 1, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited 62 establishments for violations, resulting in proposed penalties totaling $913,133.

What violation is most commonly cited by OSHA? ›

What Are the Most Common OSHA Citations?
  • Powered Industrial Trucks, General Industry (29 CFR 1910.178) ...
  • Fall Protection–Training Requirements (29 CFR 1926.503) ...
  • Personal Protective and Life Saving Equipment, Eye and Face Protection (29 CFR 1926.102) ...
  • Machinery and Machine Guarding, General requirements (29 CFR 1910.212)

What was the most frequently cited standard by federal OSHA in FY 2020? ›

Additionally, the data show that Fall Protection – General Requirements (1926.501) is OSHA's most frequently cited standard for the 10th successive fiscal year. “In a year that was defined by the ongoing pandemic, workplace safety became more important than ever,” said Lorraine M.

How much did OSHA fine Alabama Dollar General? ›

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued $2.7 million in penalties after its latest inspections of stores in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia.

What is the maximum fine for a willful or repeat OSHA violation quizlet? ›

OSHA can fine an organization up to a maximum penalty of $70,000 if the violation is severe, willful, and repetitive. For violations not meeting those criteria, the maximum fine is $7,000.

How do you beat an OSHA citation? ›

OSHA encourages employers to request a conference before deciding to contest a citation. Contest part or all of the notice, including the citation, penalty and/or abatement date. If you are only contesting a portion of the citation, you must correct the other items and pay any corresponding fines within 15 days.

What is a serious OSHA violation? ›

SERIOUS: A serious violation exists when the workplace hazard could cause an accident or illness that would most likely result in death or serious physical harm, unless the employer did not know or could not have known of the violation.

What is the least serious violation type recognized by OSHA? ›

De Minimis Violations

A de minimis violation is a technical violation of OSHA rules that have no direct impact on health or safety. It is the least serious class of violation, and inspectors do not levy fines or issue OSHA citations for these violations.

Which is one of the violations most looked for by OSHA inspectors? ›

Fall protection still holds the top violation slot at 5,260 citations — down only 35 violations from 2021. From 2011–2021 the number of falls increased according to OSHA inspection activity, making 2022's decline the first sign of a welcome downward trend.

Where does OSHA fine money go? ›

Where do the funds from OSHA fines go? There are no rewards or compensation paid to OSHA to issue fines to fund the agency and its operating expenses. Rather, all collected fines are sent directly to the U.S. Treasury's general fund.

Is mold an OSHA violation? ›

If you believe that there is a mold hazard, you have the right to file a complaint with Federal OSHA or, in states with OSHA-approved state plans, the state occupational safety and Page 18 health agency.

Who is the highest paid worker? ›

The highest paying jobs in the U.S. are all in medicine, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Chief executives and airline pilots are also among the highest paid professions.

Do OSHA whistleblowers get paid? ›

Under most of the statutes with whistleblower provisions enforced by OSHA, if the agency believes a complaint has merit, it can propose that the employer pay back wages, interest, lost bonuses and benefits, front pay (or reinstate the employee), compensatory damages, and the employee's attorney's fees.

Is OSHA 30 harder than OSHA 10? ›

Obviously, OSHA 30 is much more extensive a course than OSHA 10. That's because OSHA 30 is for supervisor-level personnel. Supervisors need to understand the hazards and safety standards that apply to all the workers they oversee, and they also need to understand how to manage and enforce site safety.

What are the 5 most cited OSHA violations? ›

Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Standards
  • Fall Protection, construction (29 CFR 1926.501) [related safety resources]
  • Respiratory Protection, general industry (29 CFR 1910.134) [related safety resources]
  • Ladders, construction (29 CFR 1926.1053) [related safety resources]

What are the OSHA fines for 2023? ›

Based on cost-of-living adjustments for 2023, OSHA's maximum penalties for “serious and other-than-serious violations” increased from $14,502 per violation to $15,625 per violation.

Which of the following OSHA inspections has the highest priority? ›

OSHA's top priority for inspection is an imminent danger-a situation where workers face an immediate risk of death or serious physical harm. Second priority goes to any fatality or catastrophe-an accident that requires hospitalization of three or more workers.

How many OSHA violations are there in 2020? ›

In FY 2020, OSHA conducted 21,674 inspections, including 12,948 (about 60 percent) unprogrammed inspections, which includes employee complaints, injuries/fatalities, and referrals, all of which were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Does OSHA pay you? ›

Once the Investigation is Over

If a case is solved in favor of the complainant, OSHA will do its best to reward that individual under their protection program. Whistleblowers are usually entitled to anywhere between 15-30% of proceeds from a suit.

Can OSHA fine you personally? ›

Although this section states that each employee shall comply with all rules, regulations and orders issued under the OSH Act, the Act does not permit the issuance of citations and penalties to employees. Section 9 of the Act, titled "Citations", provides for issuing citations only to employers.

What are the top 3 citations given out by OSHA? ›

OSHA's Top 5 most cited General Industry Standards
  • Respiratory Protection. The most frequently cited General Industry OSHA standard is the Respiratory Protection standard, 1910.134. ...
  • Hazard Communication. The next standard OSHA compliance officers cite most frequently is Hazard Communication, 1910.1200. ...
  • Lockout/Tagout.
Jan 4, 2022

What are the top 3 OSHA cited ladder violations? ›

What are the top three OSHA-cited ladder violations? Lack of worker training, Improper use of the top of step ladders, Not having a portable ladder extend three feet above the landing, View the image and decide whether it has good maintenance or bad maintenance.

What is a real example of an OSHA violation? ›

OSHA violation examples include inadequate training, missing or inadequate Safety Data Sheets, the lack of a written hazard communication program, and improper chemical labeling.

What are the worst rule violations are classified by OSHA as? ›

Willful Violations

This is the most serious kind of violation. Employers who show an intentional or careless disregard for safety will be cited up to $125,000. If there was a fatality involved, the violations become a criminal matter and fines are a minimum of $250,000 for an individual/$500,000 for a T corporation.

What does OSHA inspectors look for? ›

Workers should be encouraged to point out hazards and to describe past accidents, illnesses, and worker complaints. The OSHA inspector is supposed to bring "apparent violations" to the attention of employer and employee representatives at the time they are documented.

What is Walmart OSHA fine? ›

OSHA then issued Walmart Inc. a citation for violating the agency's standard for secure storage and proposed a $10,684 penalty. The commission's decision comes after Walmart challenged OSHA's findings, claiming the standard did not apply to the pallets Walmart used in its racking system.

Has anyone sued Dollar General? ›

In November, Yost sued Dollar General over ongoing pricing discrepancies. Even after the lawsuit, county auditor inspections and reports found that some stores continued to fail pricing inspections, and continued charging more for products than the advertised price.

How much did Walmart target Dollar General get fined? ›

Past store inspection failures

In August, eight stores — four Walmarts, three Dollar Generals and one Target — were fined a total of $63,505 in the region. In April, several area Walmart and Dollar General stores were fined a combined $42,165 for overcharges.

Can a serious violation result in OSHA imposing fines up to $7000? ›

Serious violation: A violation where a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and where the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard. A penalty of up to $7,000 for each violation must be proposed.

How many different OSHA penalties are there? ›

OSHA's workplace safety requirements are intended to ensure the health and safety of employees at a worksite. OSHA has six types of safety violations that could result in fines and penalties. The violations range from minor to severe and can cost a business thousands of dollars.

What is the maximum penalty per violation for anyone who willfully commits an unfair method of competition? ›

with actual knowledge that such act or practice is unfair or deceptive and is unlawful under subsection (a)(1) of this section. In such action, such person, partnership, or corporation shall be liable for a civil penalty of not more than $10,000 for each violation.

How far back can OSHA citations be issued? ›

Normally, however, OSHA will only classify a proposed citation as "repeat" if it is within 3 years of the final order date or the final abatement date of the previous citation, whichever is later. Is it necessary to physically place a sign on the entryway to a given confined space?

Can you ignore OSHA? ›

From a legal perspective, the most important thing to remember is that OSHA regulations are law, and there can be serious repercussions if you are found to be noncompliant.

What is the highest OSHA penalty? ›

OSHA's maximum penalties for serious and other-than-serious violations will increase from $13,653 per violation to $14,502 per violation. The maximum penalty for willful or repeated violations will increase from $136,532 per violation to $145,027 per violation. Visit the OSHA Penalties page for more information.

What is the largest OSHA fine in history? ›

#1 The Same American Refinery Experiences and Oil Spill

With a record number of violations stacked against the refinery, OSHA issued the largest fine in history, $81, 340, 000. The blowout caused millions of barrels of oil to spill into the Gulf, endangering thousands of animals and contaminating their habitats.

What type of OSHA penalties carry the highest fines? ›

There are six listed types of OSHA violations, each carrying a different penalty.
1. Serious
  • High-gravity (serious) violation penalties are $14,502.
  • Moderate-gravity (semi-serious) violation fines range from $8,287 – $12,431.
  • A low-gravity (less serious) violation fine is $6,215 for each incurred penalty.
Jan 1, 2023

What is the most frequent OSHA violation? ›

Top 10 Most Frequently Cited OSHA Violations in 2022
  • Respiratory Protection. 2,185.
  • Ladders. 2,143.
  • Scaffolding. 2,058.
  • Control of Hazardous Energy. (Lockout/Tagout) 1,977.
  • Powered Industrial Trucks. 1,749.
  • Fall Protection (Training) 1,556.
  • Personal Protective Equipment. 1,401.
  • Machine Guarding.

Can OSHA shut down a company? ›

OSHA officials can order work to stop if they find a severe risk on-site, but contrary to popular belief, they don't have the authority to shut down a business entirely. Only a court order can do that.

What is the most frequently cited serious OSHA violations involving? ›

One of the most frequently cited serious OSHA violations involving roofing and fall protection is unprotected sides and edges. Workers involved in steel erection are exposed to fall hazards.

How much money can you get from OSHA? ›

While ZipRecruiter is seeing annual salaries as high as $111,500 and as low as $23,500, the majority of OSHA Safety salaries currently range between $37,500 (25th percentile) to $69,000 (75th percentile) with top earners (90th percentile) making $94,000 annually across the United States.

Have OSHA fines increased? ›

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has increased its minimum and maximum penalties for workplace safety and health violations by 7.7 percent effective January 17, 2023. Today, a “serious” violation can cost up to $15,625, and a “willful” or “repeat” violation can cost up to $156,259.

What is one of the top five most frequent OSHA violations quizlet? ›

24) Scaffolding, fall protection, hazard communication, electrical disengagement, and respiratory problems are the most frequent OSHA inspection violation categories.

How much does OSHA pay whistleblowers? ›

Once the Investigation is Over

Whistleblowers are usually entitled to anywhere between 15-30% of proceeds from a suit. Upon winning a suit, OSHA will do its best to remove that individual from any industry blacklists that prevent them from finding related work.

Can OSHA get my job back? ›

Once they have reviewed all of the relevant evidence, OSHA will determine whether a whistleblowing violation has occurred. Sometimes, the agency will settle your dispute with your employer. A typical settlement could include remedies such as job reinstatement, or monetary damages.

Can you get a settlement from OSHA? ›

Corporate-Wide Settlement Agreements (CSAs), also known as enterprise-wide settlements, are legal agreements reached between OSHA and employers that have shown a pattern of non-compliance or have similar OSH Act violations at multiple establishments or worksites.

Are OSHA fines negotiable? ›

OSHA may negotiate lower penalties in exchange for fixing things specifically addressed in the citation. It is not always possible to negotiate fines with OSHA.

What is the penalty for OSHA in 2023? ›

Based on cost-of-living adjustments for 2023, OSHA's maximum penalties for “serious and other-than-serious violations” increased from $14,502 per violation to $15,625 per violation.


1. Top 10 OSHA Violations in 2020
(Treadstone Risk Management - Insurance and Risk Management Agency)
2. OSHA's Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Violations for 2020
3. OSHA Top 10 Violations 2021
4. 2019 OSHA Top 10 most cited violations
(Safety+Health YouTube channel)
(Health, Safety & Environment)
6. OSHA's Top 10 Citations for 2022
(Paul Cochrane)


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