Four Steps to Take After an OSHA Violation

Published: March 14, 2022

Step 1 - Correct the Hazard

The first step you will want to take is correcting the hazard. Create an action plan that will sufficiently and quickly fix the hazard. You will want to document each and every step you take, this will include things such as:

  • Emails
  • Training records
  • Any relevant purchases made
  • Any updates made to policies

Doing this will give you the evidence you need to prove safety efforts. Correcting the hazards within 24 hours of receiving the citation will decrease the penalties by 15% during the informal conference process.

Step 2 – Post Citation

The second step is to post the citation near wear the violation took place. It should be there for at least three working days or until the violation is abated. The end goal for this step is to allow employees to be aware of the hazard, as they might be exposed to it. Failure to post the citation is a violation in itself and can result in fines up to $13,653 per violation.

Step 3 – Informal Conference

In a span of at least 15 working days of receiving you citation, you will want to quickly request an informal conference to review the violation and hazards. This step is optional, but it is highly recommended. According to the Society for Human Resources, an informal conference could result in many benefits. This could include:

  • Penalty reduction (as discussed in step 1)
  • Extension of abatement dates
  • Deletion of citation entirely

Violations are split up into classifications. These classifications are:

  • Willful or repeated – employer knowingly violated standards; Fines of $9,636 - $134,937
  • Serious – when employers know or should have known of a hazard that could cause serious injury or death; Fines of $964 - $13, 494
  • Other-than-serious – include any hazard in the workplace that is not likely to cause serious injury or death; Fines of $0 - $13,494
  • Failure to abate – employer fails to correct violation; Fines of $13,494 per day the violation is unabated
  • Posting violation – employer does not post exact or any citation they received near the site of citation; Fines of $13,494
  • Falsifying information; Fines of $10,000 & 6 months in jail

An informal conference can reclassify your citation, another benefit. For example, it could go from a willful violation to a serious violation, dropping the penalties to almost half.

Step 4 – Agree or Contest

If you accept the citation, correct the hazard by mandated date, and pay the penalty fee, you then must submit an Abatement Certification letter to the OSHA officer (To document the hazard correction). Evolution Safety Resources mentions that employers can always expect a follow up investigation. During the investigation, if it is discovered that you do not correct the hazard appropriately, you may receive a failure to abate violation. 

If you do not accept the citation, you must contest it in writing to OSHA. This letter is called a Notice of Intent to Contest. Once this is filed, it will suspend any legal obligation you may have to pay penalties and make abatement efforts, until resolvent. If you do not contest it within 15 days of receiving the citation, it will become final.

For more information on the steps to take when receiving a citation, you can take a look at our So You Got an OSHA Citation course. Or you can review with our OSHA Fines and Citations course. You can find both of these in our Hard Hat Training Series! Good luck and stay safe.