Union argues record OSHA fine "less than half day's profit"
"Twenty-one million dollars is a lot to me," said Sonny Sanders, the United Steelworkers (USW) representative at the refinery, in a report circulated by the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health, "but itâ€™s not much at all to BP. After the explosion, management said that they were setting aside $700 million to pay the cost of settlements with the injured and the families of those killed. OSHAâ€™s fine is just one thirty-fifth of that amount, so itâ€™s not likely to be enough to deter them from reckless behavior."
"Thatâ€™s less than a half dayâ€™s profits for BP, and that wonâ€™t act as a deterrent," said Mike Wright, the USW safety and health director. "But OSHA imposed a fine that was close to the maximum allowed, so the fault is not OSHAâ€™s; itâ€™s the penalty structure, which is set by law. Right now the law allows OSHA to issue reduced fines to small businesses that canâ€™t afford to pay a full fine. The law should be changed so that OSHA can also increase penalties against very large companies, like BP."