How to Appeal an OSHA Violation
Every construction company and construction project is subject to OSHA regulations, and OSHA will conduct inspections to make sure that those regulations are adhered to. The intent is to make construction work safer for everyone involved. That is why an OSHA violation is a serious problem. It could impact your company in multiple ways, including creating problems for your insurance policies.
If your company receives an OSHA violation that you do not agree with, you have the right to file an appeal. OSHA has a defined appeals process that can help you get the violation overturned if it was applied unfairly. If you have never tried to appeal an OSHA violation before, it may be in your best interest to collaborate with one of our Florida OSHA defense lawyers who can guide you through the appeals process.
Notification and Posting
The first step in the appeals process is to complete any preliminary steps with one of our OSHA lawyers that OSHA requires when receiving a violation. OSHA's policy mandates that you have to post notifications near the places where the violations were noted. The purpose of this is to notify workers of the violation and the potential risks that they face working in that area. While you may not agree with the OSHA violation, you still need to finish this procedure. Delaying may lead to further problems. You also don’t want to be caught in non-compliance with the regulations.
Resolutions Without an Appeal
It is possible to work with OSHA to better understand the violation before you decide to file an appeal. There are two possible options for this. The first is to call the local OSHA office to speak to the area supervisor about the violation. OSHA has people on staff who can work with you and your representatives to better understand the violation as well as how to resolve it. In some cases, this can alleviate potential problems that can arise from appealing the violation. For example, it can be made clear that it would be easier for you to fix the problem than to contest it. This also may help you convince OSHA that the violation was unwarranted.
Your other option is to request an informal meeting with OSHA representatives. They will sit down with you to discuss the violation and how to move forward. You can also present new information or evidence regarding the content of the violation, which can help you negotiate a better position for dealing with the problem. Both of these options must be completed within the 15 day grace period after receiving the citation. If you are unsure of any part of the violation, it is a good idea to contact the OSHA office. OSHA does its best to work with contractors to resolve issues and can help you better understand the problem before you make a decision on how to deal with it.
Beginning the Appeal
The appeal process begins when you receive the citation for the violation. You have 15 days from the date that you receive the citation to file an appeal in writing. It is important to do this as soon as possible since missing the deadline will void your ability to file an appeal.
Your appeal can focus on three different areas. You can contest the violation in its entirety if you don't agree with it. You can also focus on just the penalty or the date that you have to have the abatement completed by. This can be useful in determining how you will address the violation. In some cases, it may be difficult or impossible to complete the abatement process for a violation within the time period set by the citation. You can contest that date to have it moved back so that you can successfully complete the abatement. Delays are not uncommon due to supply chain issues and the length of time it takes to find qualified subcontractors to fix a problem.
In other cases, focusing on just the penalty can be beneficial. Many companies use this method to try to minimize the amount that they will pay in a penalty. If you have multiple violations that need to be resolved, this could have a considerable impact on your company's finances.
If you are planning on contesting the violation altogether, make sure that you addressed each of the areas in your documentation. That way, there is no confusion about your position on any part of the citation. To ensure that your response to the citation is well-written and well defined, ask for assistance from OSHA attorneys to prepare appropriate documentation.
After you file your notice to contest the citation, OSHA will send it to the OSHRC, which is an independent third-party organization that will handle the case. A judge is assigned to the case, and it will go to trial just like any other case. The judge will have the final say in how the case is resolved, but you can file an appeal if you feel that it is necessary. Once the trial and appeal process is started, you are responsible for responding to any requirements related to the violation. In essence, it is resolved similarly to how civil cases are handled. You can have legal representation throughout the process, and one of our Florida OSHA defense lawyers can help you through your defense case.
If you would like to speak with a Florida OSHA defense lawyer, please contact us today.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.