May an employer appeal an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) citation?

Authors: John D. Surma and Collin G. Warren, Adams and Reese LLP

Yes. An employer has 15 working days to send a written Notice of Contest to the Area Director stating the intention to contest. The employer may contest the violation, the penalty or the time OSHA has given the employer to correct the violation. The notice must specify what it is that the employer is contesting. When the notice is received, the Area Director will immediately give the notice to the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC).

Afterwards, the matter is heard by an Administrative Law Judge with the OSHRC. These matters, which proceed much like other civil litigation, are initiated by the United States Department of Labor filing a petition against the employer, an answer being filed by the employer, discovery being taken by the parties, and a trial before the Administrative Law Judge. If an employer is not satisfied with the result of the hearing, an appeal may be taken before the OSHRC and ultimately a federal circuit court of appeals.