The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a federal agency that was created in 1971 within the Department of Labor. OSHA’s workplace safety inspections have been shown to reduce injuries and costs associated to injuries without adverse effects to the workplace or employers. Employees of a government agency can submit complaints to OSHA via a variety of means but there are a number of things that need to be completed before an inspection is scheduled. These things include the complaint being submitted in writing and the government agency in question being within OSHA’s jurisdiction. After an inspection by an OSHA investigation has taken place, assuming the investigator has found a violation, a citation is issued to the offending organization. This article will elaborate on the next steps after an organization has received an OSHA citation.
Part of the citation will include 1) a detailed description of the nature of the violation, 2) possible ways the government agency can correct the violation, 3) possible dates the company may be required to meet with OSHA about the violation. The notice of violation must be posted at or near the physical location where the violation took place so it can alert other employees and hopefully prevent further danger. The process from this point may differ slightly depending on the type of violation, but overall the flow is the same. The 4 types of violations are: 1) willful, 2) serious, 3) repeated, 4) other-than-serious.
The government agency needs to decide whether or not the OSHA recommended ways to correct the violation are feasible or not. If they are feasible and the time necessary to carry out the associated tasks are within an acceptable time frame, then the company would communicate back to OSHA that they are proceeding as such. If recommendations are not feasible for whatever reason (such as financial) or the acceptable time frame is too short, then the government agency can submit a petition for modification of abatement (PMA). In this petition the government agency would list another solution or solutions to correct the violation and the corresponding timeframe(s). After an agreed-upon solution and timeframe is chosen, then all that is left is for the government agency to carry out the solution so that the issue that caused the violation is mitigated. Lastly, government agencies cannot retaliate against employees injured by a workplace accident or against whistleblowers whose tips lead to an OSHA citation.