You Received an OSHA Complaint: Now What Do You Do?
You run a safe operation. You value the safety of your company, your property, and your workers. And then one day it happens: There is an accident at work, and the government, through the Occupational Safety Hazard Administration (OSHA) comes knocking at your door. You have an OSHA complaint. What do you do?
The OSHA Violation Notice
Your OSHA notice will have a deadline in which you must respond or reply, assuming you don’t agree with the charges brought against you. If you miss that deadline, you’ll have serious problems. You may lose the right to not only challenge the citation or violation with OSHA, but you may also lose the right to challenge the violation in court.
There is a way to ask for an extension of time to respond, or even a waiver if you miss the deadline, if you can show “excusable neglect,” but needless to say, that’s not a position you want to be in, and can add time and costs to the entire procedure.
Challenge or Comply?
Whether to challenge or contest the fine is up to you. If the fine is minimal and the fix or repair is an easy one to make, you may find it more economical to just comply with the notice. Even if you do that, you should still communicate with OSHA through your attorney—you don’t want to say or do something that opens up a larger investigation or violation.
Posting the Notice
You may initially want to keep the OSHA violation secret. Don’t. Legally, you are required to post the OSHA notice of violation in a public place in your workplace for either 3 days, or until the required corrections are made, whichever is longer. You can incur even more fines, for your failure to publicly post the violation.
If you contest the violation you have the option of meeting with an OSHA representative informally, which can help you understand the violations, and possibly, work out a quick and amicable solution to the problem.
The conference must be requested within the 15 day time frame, and if you do get a conference, the 15 day time frame to contest the violation still applies—the conference does not toll or delay or stop the clock from running on the 15 day time frame to respond to the OSHA notice.
Informal Resolution or Court?
You may be able to resolve the claim completely informally with OSHA. If you cannot however, OSHA will file a formal complaint before an administrative law judge.
This operates just like a normal complaint or lawsuit in court. You will have to respond to the Complaint, and when you do, you will have the chance to ask for information about the Complaint afterwards, just like discovery in a normal lawsuit. You also may be able to dismiss the complaint entirely, if it turns out that the complaint made against you could never make out a colorable OSHA violation.
Problems with the government or complying with government regulations? Call the West Palm Beach business law attorneys at Pike & Lustig today.