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Top 10 OSHA fines of 2021

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A recap of 2021’s biggest fines includes two companies that each had to pay more than $1 million following tragic fatalities on their worksites, and a few who racked up major fines by repeatedly ignoring federal or state safety and health mandates. The full list is below.

  1. OSHA fined a water utilities construction company almost $1.3 million following the deaths of two workers at a Boston dig site. Workers Jordy Alexander Castaneda Romero and Juan Carlos Figueroa Gutierrez died when a dump truck struck them both, pushing them into a nine-foot deep trench at a sewer repair site in Boston.
  2. An Ohio aluminum parts manufacturer with a history of safety violations was fined $1.2 million by OSHA after a fatal incident at its Ravenna plant. The fine follows an investigation into the death of a 43-year-old worker who was struck and killed March 30 by a machine’s barrier door.
  3. OSHA cited an Ohio paint manufacturer following an explosion at its Columbus plant that killed one worker and injured eight others. The incident was caused by an improperly altered kettle reactor vessel that released a flammable vapor cloud when its manway cover and gasket failed. The initial fine was $709,960.
  4. A Wisconsin grain facility was cited by OSHA after the engulfment death of a manager in a corn silo. The manager was last seen clearing corn debris from the silo. Employees called 911 after he didn’t show up for a regularly scheduled meeting or answer his phone. The initial fine was $676,808.
  5. After six workers died following a liquid nitrogen leak that displaced the oxygen in the room they were working in, four companies were fined for the roles they played in the tragic incident. A freezer malfunctioned at a poultry processing facility owned by one company and operated in part by all four companies. Three of the plant’s maintenance workers entered the freezer room without precautions and were overcome immediately because of the liquid nitrogen leak. Other workers entered the room and were also overcome. The four companies received $998,637 in penalties with the facility owner having to pay $595,474 of the total.
  6. OSHA cited a Texas bath and shower manufacturer after an inspection revealed multiple machine guarding and other safety violations. The November 2020 inspection found the company failed to use required machine guards and to provide employees with fall protection. The company had previously been cited for machine guarding violations in October 2018. It was initially fined $502,050.
  7. Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) decertified an asbestos removal contractor, but the company continued to bid on contracts and perform asbestos abatement projects, leading to a $481,278 fine.
  8. A Washington roofing company with a history of violating safety standards was initially fined more than $1.2 million for multiple repeat violations after inspectors responded to complaints from the public about roofers working with no fall protection, leading to citations at three worksites. The fine was reduced to $424,964, according to the federal OSHA database.
  9. The California state correctional institution at San Quentin was cited for a variety of COVID-19 violations, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Inspections in June and July found nine violations, leading to a $421,880 fine, “by far the largest penalty assessed against any entity in a single citation by Cal/OSHA during the coronavirus pandemic.”
  10. A rail car services provider was cited following the deaths of two workers who inhaled toxic fumes while entering a rail car that had contained gasoline. One employee entered the car to clean it and became unresponsive, the second succumbed to the toxic fumes while trying to rescue the first. Investigators found the incident was the result of the company’s failure to follow OSHA’s standards for working in confined spaces. OSHA fined the company $419,347.
About Fred Hosier

Fred Hosier is a Group Publisher for Progressive Business Publications’ Compliance Group of publications. He is the managing editor of Safety Compliance Alert and Environmental Compliance Alert. He is editor-in-chief of Previously, Fred worked for 11 years at WILM Newsradio in Wilmington, DE, where he was News Director.

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