Kevin Ian Schmidt

OSHA Citations Explained

OSHA has a scale for citations, which measures and accounts for the issues they find in the workplace.


OSHA Citations Explained

  • Willful violation: A willful violation is cited when the employer intentionally and knowingly commits the violation. It is also cited when the employer commits a violation with plain indifference to the law. OSHA may propose penalties of up to $145,027 for each willful violation.
  • Repeated violation: This violation is cited by OSHA when it is the same as a similar or previous violation. OSHA may propose penalties of up to $145,027 for each repeated violation.
  • Serious violation: OSHA cites a serious violation where there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and that the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.
  • Other-than-serious violation: An other-than-serious violation is cited when the violation has a direct relationship to safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm. OSHA may propose penalties of up to $14,502 for each serious, other than serious, and repeated violation.
  • Failure to abate: When the employer fails to abate a violation, a maximum of $14,502 may be proposed for per day unabated beyond the abatement date. Generally there is a 30-day maximum limit.
  • Falsifying information: An employer that provides false information to OSHA can receive a fine up to $14,502 or up to six months in jail, or both.

State Plan States

States that operate their own Occupational Safety and Health Plans are required to adopt maximum penalty levels that are at least as effective as Federal OSHA’s.

Want to avoid citations? Learn how to conduct a mock OSHA inspection

OSHA cites employers, not employees. It’s important to know that the OSHA Act does not provide for the issuance of citations or the proposal of penalties against employees. Employers are responsible for employee compliance with the standards.

Penalty Adjustments: OSHA may adjust penalties downward depending upon the employer’s size (maximum number of employees), good faith, and the history of previous violations. Adjustments may be applied as follows:

  • A 10 percent reduction may be given for history.
  • A maximum of 25 percent reduction is permitted for good faith; and
  • A maximum of 80 percent reduction is permitted for size.
Employees Percent reduction
10 or fewer 80
11-20 60
21-30 50
31-40 40
41-50 30
51-100 20
101-250 10
251 or more 0

Leave a Comment