Q & A: Addressing Citations

Q & A: Addressing Citations

Question: “How much time do you have to correct the citation?”

Answer: Depends on the citation and time set forth, but there’s a 15 business day grace period to allow for the filing of “Notice to Contest”.

How to Comply

For violations you do not contest, you must: promptly notify the OSHA area director by letter, signed by a member of management, that you have taken the appropriate corrective action within the time set forth in the citation, and (2) pay any penalties itemized. The notification you send the area director is referred to as Abatement Certification.

For Other-Than-Serious violations, this may be a signed letter identifying the inspection number and the citation item number and noting that you corrected the violation by the date specified on the citation. For more serious violations (such as Serious, Willful, Repeated, or Failure to Abate), abatement certification requires more detailed proof. If the employer has abatement questions after the inspection, the area director must ensure that additional information, if available, is provided to the employer as soon as possible.

Employers also can find guidance on abatement verification on OSHA’s website at www.osha.gov/ Publications/Abate/abate.html. When the citation permits an extended time for abatement, you must ensure that employees are adequately protected during this time. For example, the citation may require the immediate use of personal protective equipment by employees while engineering controls are being installed. When indicated on the citation, you must also provide OSHA with an abatement plan (steps you will take to protect employees and correct the hazards) and periodic progress reports on your actions.

The penalties itemized on the Citation and Notification of Penalty are payable within 15 working days of receipt of the penalty notice. If, however, you contest the citation or penalty in good faith, OSHA will suspend abatement and payment of penalties for those items contested until the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC), or a higher court, issues a final order or decision. The OSHRC is an independent agency and is not a part of the U.S. Department of Labor. The final order of OSHRC will either uphold, modify, or eliminate 9 the citations and/or penalties.

Penalties for items not contested, however, are still due within 15 working days. (For further details, see the following section on How to Contest Citations.) Payment should be made by check or money order payable to DOL-OSHA. Please indicate on your payment the OSHA number from the upper right-hand corner of your citation and send it to the OSHA area office listed on the Citation and Notification of Penalty.

Here’s the Employer’s Right & Responsibilities Following an OSHA Inspection handbook for employer’s, which mentions a preferred option:

Informal Conference and Settlement

Before deciding whether to file a Notice of Intent to Contest, you may request an informal conference with the OSHA area director to discuss the Citation and Notification of Penalty. You may use this opportunity to do any of the following: n Obtain a better explanation of the violations cited; n Obtain a more complete understanding of the specific standards that apply; n Negotiate and enter into an informal settlement agreement; n Discuss ways to correct violations; n Discuss issues concerning proposed penalties; n Discuss proposed abatement dates; n 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); and n Obtain answers to any other questions you may have.

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