Workplace Accidents: A Slap on the Wrist


Seven thousand dollars. Just seven thousand dollars. After Ringling Brothers Circus put dozens of people at risk during a May 4th performance, OSHA fined them only seven thousand dollars. While rigging up the equipment for their “Human Chandelier,” Ringling Brothers allowed too much weight to be suspended from one of the carabiners. Not surprisingly, the carabiner failed under the excessive weight, leading to multiple injuries when the whole group of performers came tumbling down.

OSHA is responsible for workplace safety, and it is up to them to make sure that unsafe practices are not repeated. Though they have the power to shut people businesses down entirely, they normally rely on fines to ensure best practices. But when the fine is only seven thousand dollars, there is reason to believe why it may be difficult for some to follow OSHA guidelines.

Almost as bad as the fine is the fact that OSHA is allowing Ringling Brothers to continue to maintain their innocence. Despite a full investigation yielding irrefutable proof of wrongdoing, the circus has trotted out a veritable sideshow of excuses, and OSHA has not said a word. These excuses include:

  • Claiming the carabiner had been inspected prior to the show, despite there being no log of this inspection taking place
  • 144 years of experience somehow precluding the possibility of fault, as if the individual setting up the equipment had that much experience alone
  • Claiming the equipment was rated to hold thousands of pounds more than the performers weighed, which was directly refuted by OSHA in their determination that too much weight was suspended from the carabiner

Slaps on the wrist are insulting to those who have suffered workplace accidents. If you or a loved one has been injured on the job, situations such as this make it clear you cannot rely on other organizations alone to make things right. Contact a qualified attorney to help you hold the company responsible for its negligence.

  • About the Author
  • Latest Posts

Finz & Finz, P.C. is a New York and Long Island personal injury law firm based out of Mineola, NY. It was founded in 1984 and is highly rated, with many honors and awards of excellence.