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What if OSHA doesn't accept abatement efforts after a citation?

As a business owner, being struck with a workplace safety violation from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration can prove to be very costly. Not only can violations lead to fines and negative public perception, but business owners may also have to accept the costs of abatement -- no matter how serious the violation.

In short, abatement is the process that employers must go through to demonstrate that safety hazards have been addressed. According to OSHA, employers must provide documented evidence and a sworn statement that the issues in question have been corrected. Even if efforts at abatement are made, OSHA can issue a citation if they feel as though abatement requirements haven't been met.

Of course, like any type of OSHA violation, business owners have the option to appeal a citation for failure to abate a workplace safety issue. If employers have met all of the demands made by federal officials, they shouldn't have to take additional steps.

In order to address an abatement violation -- or prevent one altogether -- it may be worthwhile to examine the requirements for certification and documentation. When certifying that abatement has been completed, employers must provide a signed statement that includes information about when and how the issue was corrected.

Beyond the statement of certification, employers must also provide evidence of actions taken. Depending on the case, it may be necessary to provide photographs, receipts for equipment or services rendered, records of employee training or a number of other documents that show what actions have been taken.

Certainly, dealing with abatement and the potential for an additional fine can be nerve wracking for business owners, particularly if they've been diligent about protecting employees. As such, it may be necessary to take steps to address and minimize the impact of punitive actions taken by government officials.

Source: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, "Questions Most Frequently Asked About Abatement Verification," accessed May 28, 2014

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