For an employer who has been cited for an OSHA violation, the cost and process of fixing the hazards that OSHA identified can be more challenging than handling the fine and other issues associated with the citation itself. OSHA requires employers to abate hazards and has identified a five-step process for correcting and showing the hazards have been corrected.
The steps include:
- Fix the hazard. OSHA requires hazards to be corrected quickly. If a hazard will take more than 90 days to correct, you may be required to have an abatement plan.
- Certify in a letter that you have corrected the hazard. The letter must include information about the inspection and citation numbers of each violation, a statement of how and on what date the hazard was abated, and other information.
- Provide documents that verify the abatement has been completed.
- Notify employees who were exposed to the hazard. The notification should contain the same information that OSHA received.
- Tag movable equipment that has been cited to warn employees of the hazard.
Depending on the type of hazard and the seriousness of the citation, some or all of these steps may be required. An OSHA defense attorney can explain the abatement process for your particular situation.
In fact, if you begin working with attorney as soon as an inspector comes to your worksite, you may be able to more efficiently abate the hazard. Your attorney can discuss the alleged violations with the OSHA inspector and may be able to create a safety plan that results in a faster abatement and could help your case in other ways. In some cases, abatement can be far more expensive than any fines. An experienced attorney can help you work with OSHA to find an appropriate abatement.
Source: Occupational Safety and Health Administration, "Small Entity Compliance Guide for OSHA's Abatement Verification Regulation," 1997.