The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) take fines seriously. And, there are heavy consequences if you refuse to pay such fines.
On Oct. 27, a Pennsylvania poultry processor found out the hard way.
A federal court found the company in contempt for failing to pay $162,359 in penalties levied after two 2016 safety and health inspections at its Birdsboro facility. During those inspections, OSHA inspectors found numerous safety hazards, including willful, serious and repeat violations, and issued citations for federal lockout/tagout, hearing conservation, and personal protective equipment standard violations.
So, how did this all happen and what’s next? Let’s break it down.
Following the initial inspections, the company contested its citations with the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. Following a full hearing on the citations’ merits, an administrative law judge affirmed the initial citations in a Sept. 23, 2019 decision that became the commission’s final order on Oct. 22, 2019.
Related: So you’ve been fined by OSHA. What’s next?
In 2020, however, the company petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals for further review. In December 2020, the Court of Appeals denied that petition, and granted OSHA’s application for enforcement. The court ordered also the company to abate any unabated violations from the citations, submit abatement documentation to OSHA, and pay the remaining penalties.
They ignored the court’s order, failing to pay the penalties or provide abatement certification. OSHA said a subsequent inspection revealed violations of some of the same standards underlying the court’s 2020 order and enforcement decree.
In line with the violation and court contempt, the Secretary of Labor’s filed petition on March 18, 2022, for judgment of civil contempt. The court granted the petition and ordered the poultry processor to pay the outstanding penalties of $162,369, plus interest and fees or agree, via payment plan. It also had to certify abatement of the violations… all of which needed to be completed within 20 days.
When that didn’t happen in time, the federal court found the company in contempt of court.
Six years after being fined for very avoidable health and safety violations, the company now finds itself in hot water with a federal appeals court due to disobedience.
Failure to comply, at this point, will bring about sanctions that the court deems necessary to compel compliance with its judgment. Needless to say, it’s not going to just go away.
“The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has reaffirmed that [the company’s] actions violated federal law,” said Solicitor of Labor Seema Nanda.
“The Department of Labor will continue to use every resource available to ensure workers are safe on the job, including holding employers accountable when they violate laws intended to protect workers.”
How to Avoid Similar Mistakes
The best way to prevent OSHA violations, and court sanctions, is to avoid them in the first place.
Are you working with your EHS manager to ensure OSHA compliance? Are you following guidelines and deadlines for medical surveillance testing, such as hearing conservation and respirator use?
If not, we’re here to help, and it’s all at your own convenience.
Need a hearing conservation program that complies with OSHA’s hearing standard – OSHA Regulation 29 CFR 1910.95? We’ll bring audio booths right to your job site, conduct mobile audiometric testing around your schedule, and provide hearing conservation training.
Need help developing a respirator health program? We conduct fit-testing on site — both qualitative and quantitive — in compliance with OSHA Regulation 29 CFR 1910.134. We also provide online respirator medical clearance questionnaires to ensure that everyone is fit to use a respirator at work – and you’ll get your own secure portal to do it all from anywhere, at any time, and from any device.
Download your free respirator refresher guide here, and your free hearing conservation guide here.
We also provide blood work, drug testing, EKGs, and so much more because we want to keep your team safe and your workplace compliant.
To get started, just complete the form below, and let us come to you!
About Worksite Medical
In most cases, OSHA requires medical surveillance testing, and at no cost to employees.
Worksite Medical makes that program easier with mobile medical testing.
We conduct on-site respirator fit tests, as well as audiometric exams, pulmonary function tests and heavy metal lab work, right on your job site. We also keep accurate, easy-to-access medical records for your convenience. You’ll keep your employees at work, and stay ahead of OSHA inspections.