In Region 1 (New England), OSHA allows contractors the opportunity to reduce their fines by 50% if they meet certain eligibility criteria. The policy is called the Expedited Informal Agreement Settlement or EISA. Typically there are on average three citations on a job site. Three SERIOUS fines can add up to $21,000.00. If you qualify for EISA saving $11,500.00 will be a big help.
I recently helped a contractor client to get his fines reduced and the 50% reduction paid for the safety equipment he was needed to have to protect his workers.
The chances of having your construction job site inspected by OSHA are extremely high if you are a residential contractor. Citations and fines for fall protection violations are again on the top of the 10 most cited listed. OSHA's number one enforcement focus is fall protection in the residential industry. 2014 OSHA inspections are up over 60% over 2013! The question is not if, but when will your job site be inspected by OSHA?
What happens when your site is inspected?
The OSHA officer will have reason (probable cause) to come into your site.
Then he/she will Identify themselves and tell why they are there. You can deny them entrance however be forewarned that they will likely come back with a warrant and the calvary. This bad faith will likely disqualify you for a 50% reduction in fine amounts.
Once on site, they will conduct an opening conference, assess the site and speak to your workers. You will have the opportunity to abate unsafe conditions immediately.
After assessing your site, speaking to you and your workers the CSHO will have a closing conference reviewing the items discussed and inspected.
There are two very important points to remember if you want to have the best outcome (lower fines);
Make sure you and all job site workers are professional to the inspector and do not lie. Lying to an OSHA officer is lying to a federal officer. The CSHO has looked at your site before he/she came in and know what is wrong. Be nice, tell the truth and it will usually pay off. Also make sure ALL your workers know how to behave if OSHA comes on your site. A worker with a bad attitude can make your OSHA inspection worse and lead to higher fines.
What happens next?
In the next few weeks to several months be on the lookout for a letter from OSHA with your citations and fines. Be sure to open it, read every word and reply within the 15 days period. The fine amount listed will be your invoice if you do not respond within 15 days.
Reducing and Settling your OSHA Fines; Expedited Informal Settlement Agreement
Region 1 OSHA has an early settlement policy where you can reduce your fine by 50% or 30% with conditions. To qualify the employer must meet 4 conditions:
Every investigative file shall be reviewed, prior to the issuance of citations, to determine whether the employer meets the following eligibility requirements for an Expedited Informal Settlement Agreement (EISA):
- The case is not an accident and/or fatality/catastrophe investigation.
- The case does not include failure-to-abate, repeated, or willful violations, nor are there a significant number of high gravity serious violations
- The employer is not delinquent in any penalty payments due to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
- There are no other factors which, in the opinion of the area director, would indicate that the employer (or case) is not a suitable candidate for the EISA program. Such other factors might be poor history of previous penalty payments, poor cooperation, and the lack of a safety and health program.
Option One (50 percent penalty reduction):
You have to agree to correct all the violations by the dates shown on the citations and provide evidence of the corrections. Additionally, you must prepare a written Certificate of Correction that all of the violations have been corrected. A copy of the certification must be posted for employees to see, and a copy must be sent to this OSHA office. For your convenience, a copy of the certificate has been provided with this mailing.
In addition, you must commit to hiring an outside safety consultant,
or contact your respective State 21(d) Consultation Program to arrange for a free full-service safety and health visit, and list on the enclosed Option One EISA form the date that the visit was scheduled. (In Mass The Department of Labor Standards)
As part of the visit, the 21(d) Program consultant will review your company’s health and safety management program, describe its adequacies and deficiencies, and make recommendations to resolve any deficiencies identified.
(This means if you do not have a safety program you will need to put one in place)
Option Two (30 percent penalty reduction):
You have to agree to correct all the violations by the dates shown on the citations and provide evidence of the corrections. Additionally, you must prepare a written Certificate of Correction that all of the violations have been corrected. A copy of the certification must be posted for employees to see, and a copy must be sent to this OSHA office.
In conclusion, for a 50% reduction you must agree to either invite the State OSHA consultation program into your business to review your safety program or you must retain the services of a safety consultant to review or develop your safety program.
Please share your thoughts.
Questions or help on safety programs please contact me.