An OSHA inspection can be triggered by any of the following:
|De Minimis Violation||No direct or immediate relationship to safety or health. De minimis conditions are documented in the same way as any other violation, but are not included on the citation.||Warning|
|Non-Serious Violation||Direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm. Usually, no penalty is proposed if it is less than $100. The penalty may be decreased by as much as 95 percent, depending on the employer’s good faith (demonstrated efforts to comply with the Act), history of previous violations, and size of business.||Discretionary penalty of up to $7,000 per violation.|
|Serious Violation||Substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and that the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard. The penalty may be adjusted downward, based on the employer’s good faith, history of previous violations, the gravity of the alleged violation and the size of business.||Mandatory penalty of up to $7,000 per violation.|
|Willful Violation||The employer either knows that what he or she is doing constitutes a violation, or is aware that a hazardous condition existed and made no reasonable effort to eliminate it. Penalty may be adjusted downward, depending on the size of the business and its history of previous violations. Usually, no credit is given for good faith.||Fine of between $5,000 and $70,000 per violation.|
|Willful Violation Resulting in Death of Employee||The employer either knows that what he or she is doing constitutes a violation, or is aware that a hazardous condition existed and made no reasonable effort to eliminate it. Violation results in the death of one or more employees.||Possible criminal conviction punishable with a fine of up to $250,000 for an individual ($500,000 for a corporation), imprisonment for up to six months or both.|
|Repeat Violation||Upon re-inspection, the employer commits a violation substantially similar to a previous one. To be the basis of a repeated citation, the original citation must be final; a citation under contest may not serve as the basis for a subsequent repeated citation.||Fine of up to $70,000 per violation.|
|Uncorrected Violation||Failure to abate a prior violation.||Fine of up to $7,000 per day until the violation is corrected.|
|Making false statements, representations or certification||Up to $10,000 and/or imprisonment for up to six months.|
|Violation of posting requirements||Up to $7,000 per violation.|
|Interference with an investigation||Assaulting a compliance officer, or otherwise resisting, opposing, intimidating, or interfering with a compliance officer while they are engaged in the performance of their duties is a criminal offense.||Criminal offense punishably with a fine of up to $5,000, imprisonment for up to three years or both.|
OSHA often assigns a $0.00 penalty in order to write a large number of citations without it being unrealistically expensive for you. However, this is typically only done one time; if OSHA finds the same violations in the future; it may cite you for a “willful” or “repeat” violation and assign a penalty up to $70,000.
Be sure to start with a clean slate. All violations from previous inspections should be cleared, or you may be assigned large penalties.