Violation Tracker: A Link to Corporate Transparency

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In October 2015, the Violation Tracker database launched, bringing citizens one step closer to corporate transparency and allowing them a closer look at health and safety infractions of individual companies. The Corporate Research Project of Good Jobs First created the Violation Tracker as a measure for people to self-educate about corporate misconduct and responsibility. This database is essentially a search engine that enables the user to look up incidences of corporate misconduct in the cases of environment, health, and safety regulation violation. Policymakers, media professionals, and the general public are encouraged to utilize the database to improve the regulations surrounding the environment, health, and safety and increasingly hold corporations accountable for their wrongdoings.

The Environmental Protection Agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the Department of Justice are just 3 of the 14 agencies that initiated over 100,000 cases that are currently logged in the database, dating back to 2010. Users are able to search by industry, parent company, subsidiaries, penalty amount, and the agency filing the violation, making Violation Tracker a convenient, valuable resource in tracking corporate offenses.

Not surprisingly, large corporations are the primary offenders in environment, health, and safety violations. The accumulated portion of the Fortune 500 companies and the Fortune Global 500 companies makes up a total of 81 percent of penalties. Leading in penalty charges are big name corporations such as Wal-Mart, BP, Exxon Mobile, and Johnson & Johnson. Some corporations have as many as 60 or 70 violations since 2010 and BP tops the charts with a $25 billion total.

Violation Tracker has made six years of data easily accessible to the public, and it is becoming increasingly clear that environmental, health, and safety regulations need to be stricter. Oil and gas, utilities and power generation, and chemicals are three of the five industries with the most penalties. With the majority of penalties falling under $10,000, there is a trend of corporations breaking the law, paying a fine, and repeating without any real consequences. Research director, Philip Mattera, mentioned, “The fact that so many of the companies in Violation Tracker are repeat offenders highlights the need to find more effective ways to deter corporate recidivists.”

Check out the Violation Tracker database here