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OSHA Violations 101 | I Received an OSHA Violation, What Do I Do?

John Guckin
Posted by John Guckin on Jul 29, 2022 1:15:00 AM


OSHA machine safety violations are bad for business. OSHA estimates that a single violation, depending on the severity, can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $150,000, not including the extra costs from lost productivity and a damaged reputation.

OSHA machine safety violations come at a hefty price, so how do you keep employees safe and prevent spending a fortune? We're reviewing how to handle a machine safety OSHA violation and protect your employees and reputation moving forward.

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What is an OSHA Violation? | Types of Violations |
I received an OSHA violation, what do I do? | Preventing OSHA Violations | Summary | Resources 


What is an OSHA Violation? 

An OSHA violation occurs when a company or employee, intentionally or unintentionally, ignores potential and legitimate safety hazards. Most of our customers come to MPSA with OSHA violations resulting from an injury or accident, machine safety citations, insurance inspection, or corporate audit findings. Depending on the severity of the infraction, the company can receive a violation via citation or fine.

A citation is a type of OSHA violation that did not put employees at risk so instead of issuing a fine, the agency gives the company a warning. Citations include a date when the safety issue needs to be resolved. And repeat offenses are listed on a company’s safety record when a business receives the same citation more than once in three years.

Fines, on the other hand, are penalties for violations that put employees at risk and have to be paid as punishment for failing to comply with OSHA standards and regulations. 

The best way to prevent OSHA violations is by having regular safety risk assessments and inspections performed by third-party turnkey machine safety companies. Third-party inspections help identify blind spots that slowly become routine and unnoticed over time.


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MPSA offers turnkey solutions for helping improve workplace safety and prevent the likelihood of OSHA violations.

Request a risk assessment and get started today. Request a Hazard Assessment


Types of Violations

The United States Department of Labor describes the different types of OSHA violations as follows: 

WILLFUL: A willful violation is a violation in which the employer either knowingly failed to comply with a legal requirement or is indifferent to employee safety.


SERIOUS: A serious violation exists when the workplace hazard could cause an accident or illness that would most likely result in death or serious physical harm. 


REPEATED: Companies may be cited for a repeated violation if they have been cited previously for the same or a substantially similar condition.


OTHER-THAN-SERIOUS: A violation that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but is not serious, is classified as "other-than-serious."


I received an OSHA violation, what do I do?



So you've received a letter from OSHA telling you there are violations at your facility, and you don't know what to do. Take a deep breath and review the following steps!


Step 1. Notify
Notify your corporate office, letting them know you have received correspondence from OSHA with violations that may have potential financial penalties.


Step 2:  Post Citation
During this time, OSHA requires you to post a copy of the citation and notification penalty immediately, at or near every violation, so that employees aware of the hazards to which they may be exposed. The OSHA Notice must remain posted for 3 working days or until the hazard has been abated. The financial penalties are not required to be posted. 


Step 3: Documentation and Facility Review
Review the OSHA violation documentation with your facilities’ safety manager or someone who is fulfilling that role. The goal going into this review should be to understand the violations and address them. Personnel should review and identify each location, machine, process, and document referenced in the violations, checking for correctness. Also, while reviewing abatement dates, confirm ample time to comply. To avoid more penalties, do not let an abatement date elapse without notification to OSHA. Lastly, during your review, don't forget to note the proposed financial penalties and determine if there are any incorrect findings.


Step 4A: Contest
After your documentation and facility review, contact your corporate office to discuss if an informal conference is necessary with OSHA. If an informal conference is necessary, you must meet with the area director during the 15 working day contest period. Companies are required to post a notice to employees next to the citation and notification of penalty as soon as the time, date, and place of the informal conference have been determined. The documents you received from OSHA will include a form that can be completed and used for the posting.

The informal conference is the opportunity for you to bring forth any evidence which you believe supports an alteration to the citations or penalties and to enter into a settlement agreement that may resolve financial penalties, citations, or abatement dates. The employer has the right to contest all citation items or only individual items. You may also contest proposed penalties and abatement dates without contesting the underlying violations.


Step 4B: No-Contest 
If you choose not to contest the violations, you must notify the OSHA area office that you have taken appropriate corrective action within the timeframe set forth and include an abatement certification or documentation. A typical abatement certification would contain, an inspection number, citation number and item number, date corrected, a brief description of the corrective action plan, a signature, printed name, and date. 

Step 5: Payment 
Your penalty payment is due within 15 working days of receipt of the citation unless contested.


Preventing OSHA Violations

Now you have a step-by-step process to deal with a violation, but how can you prevent OSHA violations in the first place? The first step is to stay up-to-date on OSHA regulations. This way, you can be sure that your workplace complies with all current machine safety-related OSHA and ANSI standards and regulations. Then, make sure your employees are properly trained in machine safety procedures. If you need resources, MPSA offers custom machine safety training videos and online or in-person courses, ensuring your employees are up-to-date on all the latest machine safety procedures.

But by far, the most effective way to prevent OSHA violations in the first place is by having regular safety risk assessments and inspections performed by third-party turnkey machine safety companies.



Knowing how to deal with an OSHA violation is an important part of protecting your reputation and employees. Remember, the best way to prevent OSHA violations in the first place is by having regular safety risk assessments and inspections performed by third-party turnkey machine safety companies.

Contact MPSA 

osha-citationMPSA offers turnkey solutions for helping improve workplace safety and prevent the likelihood of OSHA violations. Request a risk assessment and get started today.

Contact MPSA







Topics: Machine Safety, Explainers, EHS, OSHA

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