3 Ways to Handle an OSHA Citation

Many of our clients call us when they received an OSHA citation in the mail. An OSHA inspector has been out to their job site and now officially, in writing, they have an OSHA citation that needs to be dealt with- within 15 days. That means they have three options to choose from, as designated by OSHA:

Option #1 – Discuss with OSHA

This is a request for an informal conference. An informal conference is not going to extend the 15 day deadline to contest or pay the citation. In some cases, where indicated, an informal conference can result in the deletion or re-classification of an OSHA citation. This is where United Alliance Service’s clients gain the most benefit. If you engage a qualified third party consulting company you may be better positioned to successfully petition for citation deletion and reclassification. When the citation is deleted, the fine becomes zero.

If you cannot successfully petition for deletion or reclassification of a citation, you may still petition for a reduction in the fine. If you engage a qualified third party consulting company, it gives evidence to OSHA of your company’s commitment to improving safety.  OSHA may give consideration to employers who demonstrate their commitment to safety by hiring a qualified safety company.  The purpose of OSHA fines is not punitive, but to motivate the employer to put money into safety. The reduction in OSHA fines may be as much or more than 60% when the consultation plan of the qualified third party consultant is effectively communicated to OSHA.

Option #2- Correct violations and pay penalty

Again, within the 15 day deadline your payment must be received by OSHA along with a “Certification of Corrective Action Worksheet”. The worksheet must be completed correctly and be accompanied by any required evidence, such as pictures, receipts, purchase orders, etc. OSHA will give specific dates by when the violation(s) must be abated. Penalties must be paid in time in order to not accrue additional charges and interest.  

Option #3- Contest the Citation

If you do not agree with the citation, penalties, and/or correction deadlines and want to contest them, you would select option three. Your letter of intent must be postmarked within 15 working days of receiving the citation. This is a legal process, and you would likely benefit from working with a lawyer through this process, including the drafting of the letter of intent.

Click here to view an example of an OSHA citation that has been previously published for public record (this citation was not received by a client of United Alliance Services).

While receiving an OSHA citation is a stressful experience for most, the goal of both parties really is to improve the safety of working conditions.  Engaging a third party safety consultant to weigh the three options and aid in completing the process will relieve some of the stress, allowing you to put the focus back on eliminating or reducing job hazards.

Although no employer plans on receiving an OSHA citation, it happens. In 2014 there were 36,163 total federal inspections, and 47,217 total State Plan inspections. It is helpful to know what to do in such a situation, and what steps are necessary to take.  Having an experienced professional at your side that has gone through these steps before can potentially not only improve workplace safety for your employees, but could result in lowered fines and improve the outcome for everyone.

Wondering if this could happen at your workplace? Here is a list of the top ten most frequently cited standards by OSHA inspectors in 2014.