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What to Do if You Receive an OSHA Citation

You recently had an OSHA inspection and received a citation; what do you do next? First thing: don’t panic. This blog covers what to do if you receive an OSHA citation.

You recently had an OSHA inspection and received a citation; what do you do next? First thing: don’t panic. We will go through the steps you need to take to respond in the best way possible to limit your company’s liability. Let’s talk about what to do if you receive an OSHA citation.

Why does OSHA issue citations?

OSHA can issue a citation if they think you endangered the workplace’s safety, failed to comply with a bookkeeping requirement, or failed to comply with a “general duty” to keep a hazard-free work environment. OSHA has six months from the date of the violation to issue the citation.

One of the most important things to note is that you need to take action within 15 days of receiving the citation. When you receive an OSHA notice, it must be posted at or near where the violation occurred for three days or until the hazard is abated, whichever is longer.

The top OSHA citations

The top 10 OSHA citations issued in the construction industry are:

  • Failure to have the correct fall protection on a residential project
  • Using a portable ladder incorrectly
  • Failure to have the correct guard rails for fall protection
  • Failure to have the correct safety training
  • Failure to have proper eye and face protection
  • Failure to have proper head protection
  • Failure to have correct fall protection on scaffolding
  • Incorrect aerial lifts on scaffolding
  • Failure to have protection on low sloped roofs
  • Incorrect access to scaffolding

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Now that you know what you could be cited for, what are the next steps?

Once you receive an OSHA violation, request an informal conference and file a notice of contest. An informal conference with the OSHA Area Director is informal across the table or zoom meeting to see if you can settle the issue for something less than is demanded in the citation. You don’t need to have an attorney—but depending on the severity of the citation and any injuries involved, it would be in your best interest to have your attorney present.

In these conferences, the Area Director can agree to reduce any fines, give you more time to fix the violation, get rid of citations altogether, or put the citation on hold. If you reach an agreement, make sure it includes language that you are not admitting you did anything wrong. If you don’t add this language, an injured party can use it as evidence against you in a civil suit.

If you don’t settle the citation issue in the informal conference, you can move forward with the notice of contest. If you end up going this way, you will need an attorney to represent you. At this point, it is a trial between you and OSHA, and an administrative law judge will decide the outcome. Most cases settle before it gets this far.


If you received an OSHA citation and would like legal assistance, contact your friendly OSHA lawyers at The Cromeens Law Firm to educate you on the next steps. We are here to be your business advocate and help you in times of need. It is imperative that you know how to take action from the get-go and protect yourself and your company. We believe in the proactive approach to preventing costly expenses that can be avoided from the start. If you want more details on ensuring your company is up to date with all OSHA guidelines, give our OSHA attorneys a call at 713-715-7334.

Karalynn Cromeens

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