OSHA's roar doesn't carry far in the real world, according to an analysis released by the AFL-CIO.

Serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act carry an average penalty of only $861 ($960 for federal OSHA, $771 for state OSHA plans). A violation is considered "serious" if it poses a substantial probability of death or serious physical harm to workers.

South Carolina had the lowest average penalty for serious violations in fiscal year 2000 at $265, while California had the highest average penalty at $2,953.

The knock on the door that never comes? At its current staffing levels and inspection levels, federal OSHA would need 109 years to inspect each workplace under its jurisdiction just once. In six states (Florida, Louisiana, South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska and Mississippi), it would take more than 150 years for OSHA to pay a single visit to each workplace. In 21 states, it would take between 100 and 150 years to visit each workplace once.