How To Interpret Confusing OSHA Inspection Results
So you’ve had an OSHA compliance officer come by your workplace and give your facility an audit or inspection, now you’re just waiting for those results! At the end of the inspection, the OSHA compliance officer speaks with the employer, or the employer’s representative regarding any unsafe conditions in the workplace that could cause a citation or penalty. Chances are, if you’re waiting for inspection results, you know about your violations. However, after the compliance officer reports their findings, it’s the Area Director who then determines whether they will issue citations and/or penalties.
Your Citations and Penalties are your OSHA inspection results :
A citation tells the employer what regulations and standards were violated and it also gives a proposed length of time that the employer has to correct the hazards. Employers will receive their citations by mail. The employer must then post the citation near the place of the violation for 3 days or until the hazard is resolved. Whichever is longer.
The Area Director will not only cite a violation, but they will also propose a penalty for certain citations. Below are the types of violations and the penalties that may be proposed for each:
The Other-Than-Serious Violation is one that directly relates to job safety and health but more than likely would not cause death or serious physical injury.
- Financial Penalty: OSHA may assess a penalty between $0 and $1,000 per violation.
- Compliance: Demonstrated efforts to comply with the act can lead to a reduction of the penalty by as much as 95%.
Next, is a Serious Violation in which there’s a high probability that death or serious physical injury could occur.
- Financial Penalty: OSHA may assess a penalty between $1,500 and $7,000.
- Compliance: Demonstrated efforts to comply with the act, a lack of previous violations, and the size of your business could all affect whether OSHA grants a reduction in the penalty.
Then there’s a Repeated Violation which is self-explanatory as well. If you have recently violated any standard, regulation, rule or order and, upon re-inspection, a similar violations found.
- Financial Penalty: OSHA may assess a fine of up to $70,000 for each repeated violation within the last three years.
A Willful Violation means exactly what it sounds like. An employer intentionally commits a violation. They know the hazardous situation exists and that it violates an OSHA standard, but they make no effort to eliminate the threat.
- Financial Penalty: OSHA may assess a penalties of up to $70,000 for each willful violation. The minimum is $5,000.
- Other Penalties: OSHA can convict an employer in a criminal proceeding if: a willful violation of an OSHA standard resulted in the death of an employee. The employer may be fined up to $250,000 (or $500,000 if employer is a corporation). Or they may be imprisoned for up to 6 months. Or both! And a second conviction doubles the possible term of imprisonment.
Finally, there’s the Failure-To-Abate violation which is the failure to correct a prior violation.
- Financial Penalty: OSHA may assess a civil penalty of up to $7,000 for every day that the violation is left unabated.
All OSHA citation and penalty procedures vary by state. These are general requirements, but always check your specific state’s requirements upon receiving a citation or penalty. Ultimately, stay up-to-date on OSHA requirements and perform your own practice inspections to be sure you’re complying with OSHA’s codes and regulations.
If you need help, we at Operations Excellence are well-versed in OSHA requirements and also offer the OSHA Star Program to help businesses keep their workplaces safe and avoid OSHA penalties.