Employers have the right to contest an OSHA citation. If OSHA can prove its citation, employers then have the opportunity to use an OSHA defense lawyer to defend themselves against the OSHA violation. If the employer is able to prove their case, they will no longer be held responsible for the violation. When employers have taken all necessary steps to protect workers, workers are more likely to be held responsible for their preventable acts. Here are some steps that employers should take to ready their defenses and protect their business from potential legal responsibility.
Proof of Isolated Event
There are a few defenses that an employer can take but the most effective one is that of an “unpreventable employee misconduct” or “isolated event.”
In order to establish this defense, the employer must prove the following: a thorough safety program was established; the aforementioned safety program was communicated to employees; the employer enforced its safety program; and that the violation was a deviation from a communicated and enforced safety rule.
Institute Specific Rules
As an employer, you have made a commitment to safety and to follow through in maintaining a safe worksite for all employees. Institute your own rules with consideration of OSHA industry-specific regulations. Have a documented safety policy based on all parts of your industry (i.e. climbing, bending, stooping, lifting, exposure, etc.). Include an examination to ensure proper understanding of all expectations on the worksite.
Keep a Record of Offenders
Include a disciplinary program for anyone who fails to comply with the standard. Keep a record of violators so if a case does arise, you have a record of repeat offenders, re-training, and the counseling provided to the worker. You should also have workers complete pre-shift assessments recognizing hazards, regulations, and protective wear.
If faced with an OSHA inspection or citation, a record of wrongdoings and how they were addressed will be substantial in proving your case. The only way to successfully defend against citations (and prevent accidents) is to develop a comprehensive safety plan and documentation of training and enforcement. Before you consider your defense in an OSHA violation, it is your responsibility to prove all precautions were taken to prepare each worker.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.