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Thinking about contesting an OSHA fine? Read this first!

Posted by Art Valentz on February 9, 2017

OSHA FinesIf you have never received an OSHA fine, you may not realize what a nerve-wracking problem it can be to face. If money is no object, you may decide to simply pay the fine and move on with your business. However, how many business owners can honestly say that money is no object? In many cases, it may make since to contest the fine and see about resolving the citation. We’ve gathered a bit of information about this process so you can decide if it is the right step for you to take.

Reasons to Contest an OSHA Fine

Obviously, the main reason many companies choose to challenge an OSHA penalty is the cost. These fines may cost thousands of dollars if you decide to pay them. Getting a citation reversed or resolving the problem may be much more affordable. Another reason you may consider contesting a fine is if you feel like you were improperly cited. Not only does it cost you money, but it potentially shines a negative light on your organization that isn’t rightfully deserved.

Factors in Your Decision of Whether or Not to Challenge

The biggest factor in deciding whether you should challenge an OSHA citation is whether or not you think you have a chance of getting it turned over. After all, why put yourself through extra stress and effort if it isn’t likely to be overturned. Also, OSHA offers a quick-fix reduction. If hazards were uncovered during an inspection and they are fixed within 24 hours, you may be eligible for a 15 percent reduction in fine. Finally, other circumstances could result in a penalty reduction with a formal contest. No matter what, you should request an informal hearing with an OSHA representative to discuss your case and find out the best way for you to proceed.

What Does it Take to Contest an OSHA Fine?

As mentioned before, it is always best to request an informal hearing. This will allow you to get more information about your fine and can help you see if there are other options beyond contesting. If you do decide to contest the fine, follow the timeline put in place by OSHA. You can either represent yourself or hire a lawyer to fight the fine on your behalf. Much like a court case, you may be asked to bring forward proof of why your citation should be resolved. This can result in one of three things: your case could be dismissed, it could be upheld, or it may languish “unresolved” for months or even years. It is not uncommon to find OSHA citation cases from five or more years back that still have not been resolved.

The most important thing to remember is that OSHA is a federal agency with the goal of keeping EVERYONE safe at work. Therefore, it is important that you follow the agency’s rules when it comes to dealing with citations and issues at work. By taking care of your citation and following the rules and regulations put in place to control the process, you can resolve things as efficiently as possible and remain in good graces with the organization.

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