Dealing with OSHA Citations

The Occupational Safety Health Administration (OSHA) is a federal agency designed to provide safety information, safety training suggestions, and safety programs.  The focus of OSHA is assisting employers to provide a safe workplace free of hazards to employees.  OSHA also has an enforcement function.  If an employer is allowing a noncomplying safety condition or conduct OSHA may issue an enforcement citation.


OSHA citations come in two basic flavors, serious and willful.  Neither form of citation is beneficial to the employer.  After a citation issues, OSHA sends out a press release.  So, the public is made aware of a business receiving a citation.   When a citation issues, the receiving business has several options. First, ask for an informal conference to discuss the matter with OSHA. Second, file a Notice of Contest. (29 CFR 1903.17) Or third, pay the fine.


A smart move is to file a Notice of Contest within 15 days of receipt of the citation and request an informal conference.  The reason for doing both is that the informal conference may not be scheduled before the passage of the 15-day window required to file a Notice of Contest.  A wise business person will preserve their hearing rights by filing the Notice of Contest.  If the matter is resolved during the informal conference than there is no need for the Notice of Contest.  However, if there is no resolution at the informal conference the timely filed Notice of Contest has preserves many important rights for the businessman.  A Notice of Contest should be filed for all serious and willful violations.