Federal workplace safety regulators have proposed fining Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus $7,000 for an accident during a hair-hanging stunt that seriously injured eight acrobats in Rhode Island.
The proposed fine announced Tuesday by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is the maximum allowed by law.
The acrobats were injured May 4 when a carabiner clip snapped, sending them plummeting 15 feet to the floor. A ninth worker, on the ground, was also hurt.
OSHA says the carabiner was overloaded in violation of industry practice and manufacturer instructions.
The circus' parent company has 15 days to either pay the fine or contest it.
A spokesman says the circus disagrees with some of OSHA's findings and has not yet decided whether to appeal.