Regulations (Preambles to Final Rules) - Table of Contents
• Record Type: Abatement Verification
• Section: 1
• Title: Section 1 - I. Background

I. Background

Under the OSH Act, 29 U.S.C. 651 et seq., OSHA inspects workplaces to determine whether employers are complying with OSHA standards and other statutory and regulatory requirements. The purpose of OSHA inspections is to identify violative conditions that pose safety and health hazards to employees and to ensure that these conditions are abated. If OSHA determines that a given employer has committed a violation, a citation is issued. The citation references the alleged violation, notes the proposed penalties, and indicates the date by which the violation is to be corrected, i.e., the abatement date (see Section 9(a) of the OSH Act and 29 U.S.C. 658(a)). For each inspection, OSHA opens an employer-specific case file; this case file remains open throughout the inspection process and is not closed until the Agency is satisfied that abatement has occurred.

OSHA has followed a variety of administrative procedures in the past to ensure that employers abate cited hazards, and has modified these procedures a number of times in the years since the Agency was established. Currently, the cover letter to the employer that accompanies all OSHA citations states that the cited employer must notify the Area Director promptly by letter of completed abatements, as well as provide documentation, such as a photograph or description of the method of abatement, that abatement has occurred. OSHA also frequently conducts follow-up-inspections to verify that abatement has in fact occurred.

In May 1991, the General Accounting Office (GAO) issued a report (GAO/HRD-91-35) to Congress in which the GAO assessed the adequacy of OSHA's policies and procedures for ensuring the abatement of cited hazards. This report found that OSHA's abatement policies and procedures had limitations that interfered with the Agency's ability to identify those employers who have failed to abate the safety and health hazards for which they had been cited. The GAO also was concerned about hazard abatement problems in the construction industry (e.g., that