Enforcement and Inspection

Cite Me Twice, Shame on Me

Sometimes it’s difficult to get a problem cleared up around your workplace. Even when OSHA cites a condition, you may have difficulty tracking it down at all of your facilities or bringing all of your equipment up to standard. It’s important to try, though—if you don’t, you could be cited for either a “repeat” violation or for a “failure to abate” violation. Here’s why you want to avoid being cited twice for the same problem.

Both “failure to abate” and “repeat” violations carry additional penalties, over and above the penalties that were initially assessed for a violation—and you’ll still have to fix the problem.

Avoid ‘Failure to Abate’ Citations

If you never correct a cited condition, and OSHA returns to your facility and discovers your omission (as they will if you don’t file your abatement documentation), OSHA will cite you for failure to abate the violation.

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Failure-to-abate penalties are calculated at a maximum of $7,000 for each day past the abatement date that the violation remained uncorrected, up to a maximum of 30 days. You read that right: Proposed fines for failure-to-abate citations can run as high as $210,000 per violation. Worse, no reductions to the fine are allowed—and no good-faith reductions are allowed for any violation in an inspection that uncovers a failure-to-abate violation.

Avoid ‘Repeat’ Citations

If you correct a cited condition but it recurs within 3 years (for example, if you put guards on machinery and submit your abatement documentation but then workers remove the guards before the next OSHA inspection), you will be cited for a repeat violation. You can also be cited for a repeat violation if a violation that is “essentially similar” to the previously cited violation is uncovered. For example, if you were cited for failing to place covers on dip tanks in one area of the facility, and you correct that but install new dip tanks in a different area and leave them uncovered, OSHA can cite it as a repeat violation.

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Repeat citations carry a base penalty of $70,000 per violation. Reductions in the penalty are permitted only for small employers.

Of course, while it’s important not to be cited twice for the same violation, the best thing is not to be cited once. For help with that, give the resources at Safety.BLR.com® a try.

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