What States Accumulated the Highest Fines for Workplace Safety Violations

More than $1B has been issued in penalties for safety breaches since 2014.

April 10, 2024

A recent study from Ohio personal injury law firm John Fitch analyzing workplace safety across the U.S. unveiled North Dakota as the state where companies have received the highest average penalties for safety violations.

The study drew 2014-2024 data from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) records of enforcement cases with initial penalties of US$40,000 or greater.

North Dakota businesses were hit with the highest fines for workplace safety breaches. With 59 initial penalties issued, the sum totals $10,731,540, averaging $181,891 per business–the highest in the U.S. The businesses in the state that have been hit with the penalties include construction companies, food companies, and retail businesses.

Following North Dakota, Virginia is the state with the second highest average initial penalties for workplace safety breaches. In total, $29,307,524 in fines have accumulated for 235 companies across the state, which averages out at $124,713.

In third place, Washington businesses have received a total of $51,016,418 safety violation-related penalties. That amount has been spread across 415 companies, resulting in an average fine of $122,931.

Montana, despite the third lowest number of penalties out of the 50 states, with just 20, still has the fourth highest average cost of $120,012 per business.

The top five is rounded out by Alabama where 248 businesses have received a total of $29,737,468 in penalties for workplace safety breaches since 2014. The resulting average cost per business is $119,909.

“The study found that more than 13,000 enforcement cases with initial penalties of at least $40,000 since 2014, totaling more than $1 billion in fines,” said a John Fitch spokesperson. “It is important for businesses to understand the repercussions of safety breaches and ensure the safest possible work environment for employees.”

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