OSHA citations inform the employer and employees of the regulations and standards alleged to have been violated, and of the proposed length of time set to correct alleged hazards. The employer receives citations and notices of proposed penalties by certified mail. The employer must post a copy of each citation at or near the place a violation occurred for 3 days or until the violation is abated, whichever is longer. These are the types of violations that may be cited and the penalties that may be proposed:
§ Other-Than-Serious Violation — A violation that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm. OSHA may assess a penalty from $0 to $1,000 for each violation. The agency may adjust a penalty for an Other-Than-Serious violation downward by as much as 95 percent, depending on the employer’s good faith (demonstrated efforts to comply with the Act), history of previous violations, and size of business.
§ Serious Violation – A violation where there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result. OSHA assesses the penalty for a serious violation from $1,500 to $7,000 depending on the gravity of the violation. OSHA may adjust a penalty for a serious violation downward based on the employer’s good faith, history of previous violations, and size of business.
§ Willful Violation – A violation that the employer intentionally and knowingly commits. The employer is aware that a hazardous condition exists, knows that the condition violates a standard or other obligation of the Act, and makes no reasonable effort to eliminate it. OSHA may propose penalties of up to $70,000 for each willful violation. The minimum willful penalty is $5,000. When a willful violation is deemed to be ‘egregious’ than OSHA can apply willful violation limits for every violation found or for every employee exposed to hazards.
§ An employer and responsible management individuals convicted in a criminal proceeding of a willful violation of a standard that has resulted in the death of an employee may be fined up to $250,000 for individuals or $500,000 for a corporation or imprisoned up to 6 months, or both. A second conviction doubles the possible term of imprisonment.
§ Repeated Violation – A violation of any standard, regulation, rule, or order where, on reinspection, a substantially similar violation is found and the original citation has become a final order. Violations can bring a fine or up to $70,000 for each such violation within the previous 3 years. To calculate repeated violations, OSHA adjusts the initial penalty for the size and then multiplies by a factor of 2, 5, or 10 depending on the size of the business.
§ Failure-to-Abate – Failure to correct a prior violation may bring a civil penalty of up to $7,000 for each day that the violation continues beyond the prescribed abatement date.
Source: OSHA Publication 3000-09R. 2003 Other-Than-Serious Violation
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