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OSHA Abatement

Your company has received an OSHA citation; what happens now? Properly dealing with an OSHA citation is more complicated than cleaning up your job site and calling it a day. OSHA provides a set of guidelines for abatement verification, to be followed when correcting the problem a citation was issued for and notifying OSHA that the situation has been resolved.

OSHA defines abatement as "the correction of the safety or health hazard/violation that led to an OSHA citation." According to 29 CFR §1903.19 there are five steps to the abatement process:

1. Fix the hazard.

2. Certify that you've fixed the hazard.

3. Notify your employees and their representatives that you have fixed the hazard.

4. Send document(s) to OSHA saying that you have abated the hazard.

5. Tag and cited movable equipment with a warning tag or a copy of the citation.

Failure to comply with steps 2, 3, and 5 above can result in additional citations from OSHA, even if the actual hazard is corrected.

Fixing the hazard is obvious enough. Certification is achieved by providing OSHA with a letter certifying that the hazard has been fixed. All employees affected by the hazard should be notified that a citation has been issued and made aware of what abatement procedures have been taken. Finally, any movable equipment that was cited should be tagged with a warning to employees of a potential hazard. Explanations of these steps in more detail are available from OSHA's website.

Typically employers have 90 days to prepare an abatement plan, and 25 days after that to send the plan to OSHA. Careful rigor in following OSHA's abatement guidelines can greatly ease the process of fixing a cited hazard and bringing the matter to a close.

The time limits set forth above are different than the deadlines to contest a citation rather than pursue abatement. The time period in which a citation may be contested is shorter than the time allowed for abatement, and failure to contest a citation in a timely manner can result in waiver of the ability to contest. For assistance in managing your OSHA citation, either through contest or abatement, contact the law offices of Hendershot, Cannon & Hisey, P.C.

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