What to Know After an OSHA Inspection
If your business or operation has recently had an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspection, there are some things you will want to know—especially if it didn’t go well.
OSHA was founded in the 1970s to help ensure safe environments for workers and fewer injuries and on-the-job deaths. As such, the agency takes those issues very seriously. And anyone who has been inspected will want to do the proper follow up, because there are severe legal and financial consequences for failing to do so.
Here’s a look at what you need to know after an OSHA inspection has already taken place. Obviously, any violation found by an inspector should be taken seriously. But De Minimis violations are just a warning and don’t come with any penalties.
Violations other than serious and serious violations can result in penalties of up to $12,934 per violation. Willful or repeated violations can run between $9,239 and $129,336 per violation. A willful violation resulting in an employee’s death can result in a penalty up to $10,000 and/or six months or imprisonment. Penalties can double for repeated instances.
Uncorrected violations or failure to abate can result in penalties of up to $12,934 per day until those violations are corrected. It’s also important that you be truthful in your representations to OSHA inspectors and officials. Making false statements, representations or certifications can result in a penalty of up to $10,000 and/or six months imprisonment.
Violations of posting requirements can result in penalties of up to $12,934 per violation. Those are easily avoided, as government agencies will send you the notices and materials that you need to post in your workplace. Providing unauthorized advance notice of an inspection can result in penalties of up to $1,000, six months imprisonment or both.
OSHA officials and inspectors are even able to assign a penalty of $0.00. This is often done to write citations without making it inexpensive to the point of being unrealistic and serve as more of a warning. Prudent owners and risk managers will know not to expect officials to do that more than once. Otherwise, the issue for which you are being cited has the potential to become a willful or repeated violation.
As such, it is absolutely critical that you clear all previous violations as quickly as possible. If you do not, you may be looking at larger penalties. If you are cited, you need to pay the citation immediately, if you can help it. You may even be able to negotiate a reduction in the amount if the inspection went well otherwise. But you may have to agree to pay it early as part of that agreement.
Risk managers sometimes disagree with the citations issued by inspectors. If you find yourself in that situation, you can send a Notice of Contest. This must be done within 15 days of the inspection. You must identify the reason for the citation being issued, the proposed penalty and the period of abatement or failure to correct.
If this happens, the matter will go before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. Your notice will then be assigned to an administrative law judge. Your notice will be dismissed if it is not legally valid, so you will want to make sure to do it correctly. You will be given the opportunity to participate in the hearing. If you disagree with the decision made by the administrative judge, you can appeal it to the Commission. If they rule against you, you can take the next step and appeal to the federal court of appeals in your jurisdiction.
If you need any more information, you can contact the highly trained staff at ABI Insurance.
ABI Insurance carries commercial insurance. Its team of qualified professionals are fully equipped to help you manage risks and ensure that your business is protected and you’re covered in the event that anything happens.
For more information on the products and services offered by ABI, call 503-292-1580 or go to www.abipdx.com.