Cited By OSHA: What Now?
If you are cited for violations following an OSHA inspection, there are certain procedures that must be followed. Here’s a brief overview of key issues.
As an employer who has been cited, you may take either of the following courses of action:
- If you agree to accept the citation, you must correct the condition by the date set in the citation and pay the penalty, if one is proposed.
- If you do not agree, you have 15 working days from the date you receive the citation to contest in writing the citation, the proposed penalty, and/or the abatement date.
If you receive a Citation and Notification of Penalty from OSHA following an inspection:
- You must post the citation (or a copy of it) at or near the place where each violation occurred to make employees aware of the hazards to which they may be exposed.
- The citation must remain posted in a place where employees can see it, for 3 working days or until the violation is corrected, whichever is longer. (Saturdays, Sundays, and federal holidays are not counted as working days.)
- You must comply with these posting requirements even if you contest the citation.
- You also have to post the abatement certification documents (e.g., abatement certifications, abatement plans and progress reports) at or near the place where the violation occurred.
- For moveable equipment found to be in violation and where the posting of violations would be difficult or impractical, you have the option to identify the equipment with a “Warning” tag specified in the abatement verification regulation, Title 29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 1903.19(i).
Informal Conference and Settlement
Before deciding to contest the citation, you may request an informal conference with the OSHA area director within the 15 working day period to discuss any issues related to the citation.
Employee representative(s) have the right to participate in any informal conference or negotiations between the regional administrator or area director and the employer. OSHA will, therefore, inform them of an informal conference or contest.
If you request an informal conference, you can use this opportunity to do any of the following:
- Obtain a better explanation of the violations cited
- Obtain amore complete understanding of the specific standards that apply
- Negotiate and enter into an informal settlement agreement
- Discuss ways to correct violations
- Discuss issues concerning proposed penalties
- Discuss proposed abatement dates
- Resolve disputed citations and penalties, thereby eliminating the need for the more formal procedures associated with litigation before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission
- Obtain answers to any other questions you may have
OSHA encourages you to take advantage of the opportunity to have an informal conference if you foresee any difficulties in complying with any part of the citation. Please note, however, that an informal conference must be held within the 15-working-day Notice of Intent to Contest period and will neither extend the 15-working-day contest period nor take the place of the filing of a written notice if you desire to contest.
If you agree that the cited violations exist, but you have a valid reason for wishing to extend the abatement date(s), you may discuss this with the area director in an informal conference. He or she may issue an amended citation that changes the abatement date prior to the expiration of the 15- working-day period without your filing a Notice of Intent to Contest.
When the Citation Becomes Final
If you do not contest within 15 working days, your citation will become a final order not subject to review by any court or agency. After this occurs, the OSHA area director may continue to provide you with information and assistance on how to abate the hazards cited in your citation, but may not amend or change any citation or penalty, which has become a final order. The area director may only advise you on abatement methods or extend the time you need to abate the violation.
In the next post, we’ll briefly review the types of citations OSHA might issue following an inspection and the penalties that might be proposed.