OSHA Citation Defense Attorneys
Defending Against OSHA Violations Across Texas & U.S.
Here's the bottom line: You have the right to challenge your OSHA citation.
At Hendershot Cowart P.C., our OSHA defense attorneys have years of legal experience defending employers against OSHA citations of all sizes, from the most minor to the most serious, including incidents involving multiple deaths. Clients entrust their businesses to us because we have over 30 years of experience creating effective solutions for high-stakes OSHA law cases.
An OSHA citation can cripple a business, resulting in negative publicity and thousands of dollars in fines. If you receive a citation for violating OSHA regulations, moving quickly to protect your business is vital. Our attorneys will advocate for your rights and help you protect your livelihood.
The True Impact of an OSHA Citation
OSHA citations do not exist in a vacuum – the fines and impact of your citation will be informed by previous citations you've received. This is why defending against a citation has as much to do with your future costs as present ones.
When deciding whether or not to challenge an OSHA citation, we encourage employers to consider more than just the fine attached. Often, there is much more at stake:
- The cost of abatement
- The potential loss of contracts
- The risk of future litigation / civil liability, such as a personal injury or wrongful death claim
- The possibility of repeated or willful OSHA violations, which carry larger fines
- Enrolling in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP)
As of January 2023, OSHA's violation penalties are as follows:
- Serious Violations: $15,625 per violation
- Failure to Abate: $15,625 per day beyond the abatement date
- Willful or Repeated Violations: $156,259 per violation
Types of OSHA Violations
OSHA violations are classified as follows:
- Other Than Serious Violations: These are violations that have not caused or would not cause death or serious physical harm. A common example is failing to list work-related injuries and illnesses on an OSHA form 300 log.
- Serious Violations: These are violations that have caused or could cause death or serious physical harm. A common example is failing to provide fall protection for workers working at heights, or other safety equipment.
- Willful Violations: A violation is willful when an employer deliberately ignores requirements and fails to remedy issues.
- Repeat violations: This is when an employer is cited more than once for the same violation. Fines are substantial.
- Failure to Abate Previous Violation: This is when an employer fails to correct an issue within the required time frame. Fines are compounded by the day until the issue is remedied to the satisfaction of the OSHA investigator.
With decades of collective experience, our attorneys are prepared to defend employers against these and other types of OSHA violations. We will take immediate action to prevent, mitigate, reduce, or eliminate citations. When possible, we can appear on site during the OSHA inspection. On these occasions, we strive to negotiate a positive outcome with an OSHA inspector on the spot if appropriate.
The Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP)
The Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP) is a specialized OSHA initiative aimed at “recalcitrant employers" who receive citations for willful, repeat, or failure-to-abate violations.
OSHA’s SVEP subjects companies to enhanced fines and more frequent and disruptive OSHA inspections, in addition to greater compliance costs and reputational damage that can adversely impact contracts and consumer loyalty.
Many of the employers listed in OSHA’s SVEP list (published quarterly on its enforcement page) have closed their worksites, gone out of business, or completely discontinued cited operations. Being on the SVEP list can have long-term costs consequences your company that don't come in the form of a fine.
Employers may be placed into OSHA’s SVEP for any of the following reasons:
- A fatality or catastrophe inspection that has one or more willful, repeat, or failure-to-abate violations.
- A non-fatal inspection that has two or more willful, repeat, or failure-to-abate violations for certain high-emphasis violations.
- A non-fatality inspection with three or more willful or repeated violations that deal with the potential release of a highly hazardous chemical.
- The case is egregious.
Though the consequences of SVEP are steep, there may exist opportunity for negotiation with OSHA to mitigate costs and / or reduce the classification of the citation(s).
If you don't properly defend against these citations, you're facing magnified consequences and more severe classification for your next citation. That's why you need an OSHA citation defense lawyer.
OSHA Citation Defense Strategies
Every OSHA citation case is different, which is why we tailor defense strategies specifically to the facts of each employer, worksite, and alleged violation. To determine what a viable defense looks like for you, it’s important to ask questions like:
- Was the incident a result of employee misconduct?
- Was the incident not in the scope of employment?
- Was the wrong employer cited due to confusion on a multi-employer job site?
- Would compliance with the safety standard expose employees to greater risk?’
These are just some of the questions that we will ask in developing your defense strategy.
Employers have the right to contest OSHA citations at a hearing in front of an administrative law judge. We are skilled at these hearings. We will present evidence and argue on your behalf. Ultimately, we want OSHA to dismiss the citation, reduce the classification, or alter the penalty / abatement requirements to meet the needs of the employer. We have been successful in achieving this goal on behalf of employers throughout the U.S.
To arrange a consultation, call (713) 909-7323 or contact us online. We serve clients throughout Texas and the U.S. from our main offices in Houston, as well as by appointment at our offices in Corpus Christi, Austin, and Galveston.
We Shoulder the Legal Burden.™And let you get back to business.
We Want to Be Your Law Firm for Life.We take a vested interest in our clients' success – from start to finish.
We Believe in Prompt, Personal Attention.As a boutique law firm, we unite real experience with personal attention.
We Serve Clients Throughout Texas and the Nation.We handle matters from the Red River to the Rio Grande and beyond.
In Business Since 1987.Let us put the full force of our 100+ years of combined experience to work for you.
“I cannot say enough good things about my Lawyer, Mr. David Augustus. His calm, laser-like knowledge of business law allowed me to prevail and teach a few others during the short negotiations. Having the full backing of his law firm also helped greatly.” - L.A.
“Excellent experience working with Ray to settle our partnership dissolution. He was consistently available and steadfast in his guidance. Highly recommend this firm.” - S.H.
“I retained Hendershot Cowart last year. Though an obvious small case for the firm, it was traumatic and very personal for me. Ashley Arnett guided me through the process, never once making me feel that my case wasn’t any less important as any other.” - S.L.