Workplace Culture

According to OSHA, Ohio Is One of the Unsafest States for Workers

By Jon Hyman

Jan. 6, 2016

Did you know that OSHA publishes statistics for high-value enforcement cases? Each week, OSHA updates a state-by-state list of enforcement cases with initial penalties above $40,000.

Since we just wrapped 2015, I thought it was a good time to take a peak at the list to grab an annual snapshot.

And, while I know that our OSHA offices in Ohio are active, I did not realize just how active. According to OSHA, the only state with more high-value cases than Ohio last year was California(!). And, when you’re in California’s territory on an employment-law list, you know you’ve done something very wrong. While Illinois had 14 fewer cases than Ohio last year, it nipped Ohio by just under $200,000 for the highest aggregate penalties. California, by the way, was a distant third, trailing Ohio in dollars penalized by more than $1 million. Amazingly, Ohio employers racked up more penalties than the lowest 27 states combined.

Do I believe that Ohio’s employers are less safe than those of any other comparably sized state? Not for a second.

So, what do these stats tell us? They tell us that OSHA’s Ohio-based investigators are a busy group with a heavy hand for issuing penalties. What does this mean for you and your business?

It means that as you set your business resolutions for 2016, getting your workplace-safety house in order should be at or near the top of your to-do list. If you’re curious, here is the complete list, ranked by state in order of total penalties levied. 

State No. of Violations Total Penalties
IL 48 $6,103,200
OH 62 $5,926,954
CA 76 $4,804,920
TX 52 $4,317,069
WI 21 $4,090,213
NJ 50 $3,248,680
PA 22 $3,106,470
NY 33 $2,985,210
FL 36 $2,560,850
MI 15 $2,060,480
GA 29 $1,941,190
MO 16 $1,739,568
WA 16 $1,386,900
MA 17 $1,359,080
NE 4 $1,314,140
NC 10 $1,114,600
CT 15 $1,096,272
AL 15 $1,047,220
OK 9 $892,200
AK 2 $601,325
VA 10 $568,860
ME 4 $508,560
KS 8 $490,150
NV 5 $489,800
IA 5 $449,750
HI 5 $443,140
OR 3 $413,115
MS 5 $375,000
WY 6 $362,445
MN 7 $357,575
SC 5 $355,100
IN 5 $339,850
WV 4 $322,670
DE 3 $266,300
ND 2 $244,200
LA 3 $239,400
RI 3 $233,800
CO 4 $207,760
NM 2 $193,600
NH 4 $189,740
KY 3 $144,250
AR 3 $141,800
SD 1 $47,740
MT 1 $47,600
AZ 0 $0
ID 0 $0
MD 0 $0
TN 0 $0
UT 0 $0
VT 0 $0

This post originally appeared on Meyers Roman’s Ohio OHSA Law Blog.

Jon Hyman is a partner in the Employment & Labor practice at Wickens Herzer Panza. Contact Hyman at

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