When OSHA inspects a worksite and finds a violation, it issues a citation and a proposed penalty to the employer. Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act), the employer can contest the citation and proposed penalty to a separate Federal agency, called the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC).
Minor violations are typically not contested. But significant citations, which address serious hazards, particularly if they have caused death or serious injury and may be costly to correct, are usually contested. When a contested citation goes to the OSHRC, the OSH Act at Section 10(c) permits the affected employees or their representatives to participate as parties in the hearings before the OSHRC.
When I was with the OCAW, we were the first union to exercise our rights under this provision. Over the course of my career with the OCAW, I represented the OCAW and its locals in 130 cases before the OSHRC. Workers and their unions have a more detailed knowledge of how the worksite operates than the OSHA inspector. When an employer contests OSHA citations and places the burden of proving the violation on OSHA, the union, as a party to the OSHRC proceeding, can play a critical role in assisting OSHA with the prosecution of the violation.
I am available to provide such representation in OSHRC proceedings on behalf of unions.