OSHA Issues Largest Fine in History to BP North America—$87 Million

Oct. 30, 2009
OSHA is issuing $87,430,000 in proposed penalties to BP Products North America Inc. for the company’s failure to correct potential hazards faced by employees. The fine is the largest in OSHA’s history. BP was also the recipient of the previous largest total penalty—$21 million.

In March 2005, safety violations at BP’s Texas City, Texas, refinery resulted in a massive explosion that killed 15 people and injured 170.

BP settled with OSHA in September of that year and agreed to eliminate potential hazards similar to those that caused the tragedy. Today’s announcement comes at the conclusion of a six-month inspection by OSHA to evaluate BP’s compliance with its obligations under the 2005 agreement.

“When BP signed the OSHA settlement from the March 2005 explosion, it agreed to take comprehensive action to protect employees,” says Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. “Instead of living up to that commitment, BP has allowed hundreds of potential hazards to continue unabated.”

For noncompliance with the terms of the settlement agreement, the BP Texas City Refinery has been issued 270 “notifications of failure to abate” with fines totaling $56.7 million. Each notification represents a penalty of $7,000 multiplied by 30 days, the period the conditions remained unabated. OSHA also identified 439 new willful violations for failures to follow industry-accepted controls on pressure-relief safety systems and other process safety management violations, with penalties totaling $30.7 million.

“BP was given four years to correct the safety issues identified pursuant to the settlement agreement, yet OSHA has found hundreds of violations of the agreement and hundreds of new violations. BP still has a great deal of work to do to assure the safety and health of the employees who work at this refinery,” adds acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Jordan Barab.