How to Contest an OSHA Citation

Prepare for OSHA Inspection in United StatesReduce Fines from Violations and Correct Safety Problems

It happens all across the US: A federal OSHA inspector leaves a business with a list of citations. Each citation may mean a financial penalty for health and safety violations. The only way to avoid paying is by contesting the citations. There are plenty of valid reasons to contest an OSHA violation, the most important of which is to protect your company from future liability. T/C Risk Management will guide you through the contest process and help you establish safety standards to avoid future violations. With our help, businesses have reduced OSHA citations from $22,000.00 down to $1,200.00.

Different Types of OSHA Violations

  • Serious – The violation could cause death or permanent disability
  • Other-Than-Serious – A safety violation which would not cause death or permanent disability
  • De Minimis – A non-standard safety practice
  • Failure to Abate – A prior violation is not corrected since previous inspection
  • Repeated – Any violation which your business has been cited for within the last five years
  • Willful – Safety procedure is purposefully ignored

The exact type of OSHA violation will have bearing in the severity of the penalty. For example, a de minimis violation may be easily contested if the safety practice at your workplace is shown to be just as effective as the standard safety procedures. Serious violations will carry larger penalties than violations for hygiene or unsafe noise levels. If your business does not have a set policy, it is time to develop a custom safety policy with T/C Risk.

Initial OSHA Citation Timeline

OSHA Inspectors Writing Citations for US BusinessFirst, your company will undergo an inspection from an OSHA representative. Shortly after the visit you will receive notice of any citations, usually through certified mail. Make sure the employee who receives your mail knows to immediately bring forward any mail from OSHA! Once you officially receive the citation your opportunity to contest is on a countdown.

The contest process begins by submitting a Notice of Intent to Contest within 15 days of receipt. This must be turned in to a local OSHA office in writing. NOTE: You only have 15 business days to begin the contest process unless you qualify for any exemptions. Get our expert help so you can make the deadline. We have decades of experience reducing OSHA fines for businesses across the United States and Canada.

Some issues may be settled with informal conferences with OSHA representatives. Like an official Notice of Intent to Contest, an informal conference must occur within 15 days. Despite the name, these conferences are official and can lead to lower penalties or reduced violations. It is best to know all your options before requesting an informal conference or submitting a Notice of Intent to Contest.

Why Contest an OSHA Violation?

OSHA Safety Records

You might think your only option to get rid of an OSHA citation is to pay the penalty. This is not true! You should always be aware of your options to contest or negotiate violations before you accept the penalties. You don’t want your company to be permanently marked by past safety violations. It can increase your business liability insurance and cause potential employees to look for jobs elsewhere. And it puts you at greater risk for more expensive repeated violations.

If there are multiple citations against your company, you may have standing to contest some and not others. You cannot contest a violation in an attempt to avoid penalties. Our team will determine which violations you can and cannot contest based on OSHA training regulations.

Handling OSHRC Hearings

Once you submit Notice, your contest is turned over to the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC), an independent agency. Their  process includes hearings similar to a trial. There is even an appeals process if necessary, known as a Petition for Discretionary Review.

They will call in workers to provide testimony and act as witnesses. A judge will use this information to rule on the violations. The contest process will vary based on the citation you are challenging. Make sure you and your employees are prepared.

Dealing with Follow-Up OSHA Inspections

OSHA Safety Training ClassRegardless of the outcome of your citation contest, you will receive a follow-up inspection from OSHA to ensure you are following safety standards. You will need to implement any new safety standards by this time to avoid more severe repeated or willful violations.

T/C Risk Management does more than help businesses contest current OSHA violations. Let us be there for you to make sure all safety issues are resolved and OSHA requirements are met. Through our safety training classes and seminars, we lay the groundwork to avoid future citations. Our classes include:

Violations can lead to higher insurance costs. We assist companies in finding the right insurance risk plan, even reducing insurance costs as much as 40%. Stay safe and save money with T/C Risk Management!

The Most Expensive OSHA Penalties and Fines

The penalty fines OSHA delivers are determined by the severity of the violation. The maximum financial penalty per violation is nearly $13,000. Repeated or willful violations increase the penalty tenfold, with violators being charged over $129,000. Multiple violations will increase the total. Some companies have faced multi-million dollar fines over the years from OSHA.

The highest OSHA penalties ever include:

BP Products North America $81,340,000
IMC Fertilizer/Angus Chemical $11,555,000
Imperial Suger $8,777,500
O&G Industries, Inc. $8,347,000
Samsung Guam, Inc. $8,260,000

Failure to contest an OSHA citation can open up your business to civil lawsuits and workers’ compensation claims from employees. Combined with fines all these payments can lead businesses to bankruptcy. Protect your business and learn if contesting an OSHA violation is the best option for your business.

Contact T/C Risk Management to contest an OSHA violation at your business.