Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at

July 30, 1992

The Honorable John W. Cox
U.S. House of Representatives
612 Spring Street (Route 20)
Post Office Box 252
Galena, Illinois 61036

Dear Congressman Cox:

This is in further response to your letter of June 2, addressed to Mr. Tadd Linsenmayer, Director, Office of Intra-Governmental Affairs, requesting information on how the Occupational Safety and Health Administration enforces compliance with workplace safety and health standards. Your letter was forwarded to the Directorate of Compliance Programs for response. The questions you asked and our responses follow:

Question 1: Explain the process involved when an inspection is done and violations are found.

Reply: At the end of an inspection, the Compliance Safety and Health Officer (CSHO) conducts a "closing conference" with the employer or his designated representative and a representative of the employees. At this conference, the CSHO discusses any apparent violations, requests input on abatement times, explains the citation process thoroughly and gives the employer a copy of the OSHA 3000 publication (Revised 1992), Employer Rights & Responsibilities Following an OSHA Inspection. We have enclosed a copy of this publication which explains the post-inspection process.

Question 2: How long does an organization have to come into compliance?

Reply: The abatement period is the shortest interval within which the employer can reasonably be expected to correct the violations. We believe that most violations can be corrected in 30 days or less. The OSHA Area Director will set an expected abatement date for each violation, based on the circumstances and the gravity of the hazard.

Question 3: Is any consideration given to the effect the cost of coming into compliance will have on an organization's budget and, is the organization allowed some time to work the cost into its budget?

Reply: An organization's budget is not normally taken into consideration in determining penalties to be assessed on citations. However, after a citation is issued, if an employer presents at an informal conference convincing evidence of inability to pay a penalty because of financial difficulties, the Area Director may determine that a penalty reduction is appropriate.

Question 4: What is the procedure to help employers come into compliance when equipment does not completely meet the OSHA standard?

Reply: The purpose and goal of OSHA is to assure safe and healthful workplaces for all employees, and to that end, it is our policy for CSHO's, during the course of inspections, to offer appropriate abatement suggestions to the employer. This information is meant to provide guidance to the employer in developing acceptable abatement methods or in seeking appropriate professional assistance. The employer is not limited to nor is he/she bound by the suggestions offered, but it is his/her responsibility to select and carry out an effective abatement action for each hazard in the workplace. OSHA is willing to work with employers even after citations have been issued to achieve effective abatement of hazards.

Question 5: Please address a problem concerning a health clinic that had and eyewash station in place and was ordered to replace it with a more expensive model.

Reply: OSHA depends on the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) consensus standard, ANSI Z358.1-1990, Emergency Eyewash and Shower Equipment, for requirements for eysewashes. OSHA does not object if employers comply with this ANSI standard by modifying existing emergency eyewash and shower equipment. However, if existing equipment does not meet the ANSI standard and cannot be modified to meet it, then the employer may be required to replace the existing equipment with an emergency eyewash and shower that will meet the ANSI standard.

I hope this information is helpful. If we can be of further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.


Patricia K. Clark, Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs