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Handling an OSHA Safety Citation

Trent Cotney Safety Initiatives
November 12, 2019 at 6:00 a.m.

RCS Influencer Trent Cotney says that even the most solid safety program can’t prevent your company from receiving an OSHA violation.

Roofing contractors and, more generally, all construction employers are legally required to adhere to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) workplace standards and regulations. Therefore, it is in your company’s best interest to prevent, eliminate, and minimize hazards on your job sites.

However, here at Cotney Construction Law we know that sometimes employees might not always follow safety procedures and policies because they believe it is unnecessary or more of a burden to do so in a specific situation. If you happen to be unfortunate enough where one of your employees fails to comply with the OSHA requirements while an OSHA officer is on your job site, then this failure can result in significant citations, fines, and penalties.

If your jobsite is suddenly inspected by an OSHA officer and a subsequent citation is issued, it’s important to respond to the citation and participate at the informal conference. A citation should be addressed as soon as it is received, since it is a time sensitive matter. If you are unsure if you should contest a citation, you may still want to request an informal conference because the potential advantages of doing so, such as a penalty reduction, may very well be worth your time and money.

Based on my experience, it is crucial that you have an attorney who has been trained in OSHA defense when dealing with an OSHA citation because it will give you and your business the best chance of minimizing potential financial and reputational harm.

The penalties for an OSHA violation are serious, and hard to challenge on your own. The process to contest an OSHA citation is filled with intricate procedural and timing requirements that need to be followed correctly in order to have a chance at successfully contesting a citation. For example, you only have 15 working days from the date you receive a citation to contest it in writing. This is where an attorney can be of assistance because they will help you file a Notice of Contest within the time limit, letting the OSHA area director know that your company will be contesting a citation. An attorney will also request an informal conference on your behalf with the OSHA area director to discuss issues related to the citation such as requesting a penalty reduction or deletion, extension of abatement dates, reclassification of citations, or the discovery of more facts that the OSHA officer might have.

Dealing with OSHA citations can be frustrating and complex, which is why hiring an experienced OSHA attorney can make the process easier for you and your company and result in an outcome that ultimately improves workplace safety.

Trent Cotney is the founder of Cotney Construction Law, a law firm that specializes in roofing and construction law. See his full bio here.

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.



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