OSHA Citations and the Abatement Process
Continuing the topic of resolving OSHA citations, here are five steps that can help you survive the abatement process should OSHA ever cite your business for violations.
You work hard to keep your workplace safe and make sure you’re never cited for violations of OSHA standards. But if that day should ever come, you need to be prepared for what happens next.
When OSHA cites a workplace for violations, the employer must follow prescribed abatement procedures in a timely manner. This includes five key steps.
1. Correct. Hazards found during an OSHA inspection must be promptly corrected, normally within 30 days. Exceptions are made on a case-by-case basis. OSHA can require an abatement plan for serious, willful, and repeat violations having an abatement period lasting longer than 90 days. If an abatement plan is required, you have 25 calendar days after receiving the citation to send OSHA an abatement plan. For long-term abatement projects, OSHA may also require progress reports concerning abatement activities. The citation will tell you if progress reports are required. If progress reports are required, you have 55 calendar days after receiving the citation to send OSHA your first progress report. You can use the same form for the progress report and the abatement plan.
2. Certify. OSHA requires a letter certifying that the violation has been corrected. The letter must include:
- Inspection, citation, and item numbers for each violation
- A brief statement that the violation was abated, with the date the hazard was corrected
- A brief description of how the hazard was abated
- A statement informing OSHA that affected employees and their representatives have been informed of abatement actions
- A statement assuring OSHA that the information provided is accurate
You have 10 calendar days after the abatement date to send OSHA an abatement certification letter.
3. Notify. Employees exposed to hazards must be notified about the citation and provided with:
- The same information given to OSHA concerning actions taken to correct the safety or health violation
- A copy of the abatement certification, which must be posted in the workplace for at least 3 working days after submission to OSHA
If you have mobile work operations of if employees don’t assemble routinely in a central work location, OSHA allows the use of means other than posting to notify employees of abatement. For example:
- Including a copy of the certification letter or a summary in pay envelopes
- Presenting or discussing the contents of abatement information at a safety meeting or training session with affected employees
- Publishing the contents of the abatement letter in an employee newsletter or other general communication that will reach all employees
- Posting the abatement letter inside the lid of a toolbox or a visible location in a compartment where cited equipment is stored
- Attaching the letter to a clipboard on a vehicle’s dashboard or a visible surface of a vehicle’s sun visor where the cited equipment is located
4. Verify. To verify abatement, you must provide OSHA with one or more of the following forms of abatement verification documentation:
- A photograph or video of the abated condition
- An invoice or sales receipt for equipment used to achieve abatement
- A report by a safety and health professional describing actions taken to abate the hazard or describing the results of analytical testing that substantiates abatement
- Documentation from the manufacturer that the item repaired (equipment, for instance) is within the manufacturer’s specifications
- A copy of a signed contract for goods and services (for example, an evaluation by a safety engineer)
- Records of training completed by employees if the citation is related to training requirements
- A copy of program documents if the citation is related to a missing or inadequate program (for instance a hazard communication or respiratory protection program)
5. Tag. Any cited movable equipment, including rented equipment, must be tagged with a warning or a copy of the citation. When tagging movable equipment:
- Put a warning tag or a copy of the citation on the operating controls or cited components of the equipment immediately after the citation is received.
- Warn employees on the tag about the cited hazard, briefly describing the violation and telling them where to find the complete citation.
- You can only remove a tag after you have:
- Corrected the violation and submitted all required abatement verification documents to OSHA;
- Permanently removed the equipment from service;
- Received an order after a hearing contesting a citation that states the citation has be vacated; or
- Given up control of the equipment (for example, sold it and placed it under the control of the buyer or returned it to a rental company).
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