Your informal conference with OSHA is scheduled for tomorrow. Again, $14,000 is a lot of money for your small electrical company. You have heard stories about the OSHA Area Director, indicating she is a hard-lined negotiator, and stories that she is very easy to work with if you stick to the facts and demonstrate your commitment to safety. You have also heard that she does not take kindly to disrespect (and that your foreman may have been rude with OSHA’s Compliance Officer), and that generally speaking, the average respectful contractor gets a 40- to 45% penalty reduction as a result of attending an informal conference; and $7,700 is a lot better price to pay than $14,000.
Ideally, you would like to see the first two citations withdrawn (open elevator shaft and grounding prong that was removed from the extension cord). That would decrease your penalty by almost 2/3. Of course, the argument that your company leadership could not have known about the bad cord is weak, because the foreman has not been filling out his extension cord checklist consistently (and did not on the day of the inspection… or the two weeks preceding the inspection).
Sometimes the Area Director is willing to just reduce the penalty on citations, even if they are not withdrawn, especially if the employer can demonstrate good faith with respect to his or her regard for providing a safe workplace. Settling the case is in her interest because the employer (you in this case) could legally contest the citations. The case would then become a legal matter to be heard by an administrative law judge; many of whom have been known to vacate any citations that are not “Iron-clad,” so to speak. The hearing would also tie up her Compliance Officer, and the time and resources of OSHA’s attorneys for what they would deem to be a very trivial case.
So contesting the citations is another option for you. But then, of course, you will end up having to pay a considerable amount of money to your attorneys. The judge’s decision combined with the attorney fees could end up costing much more than $14,000, even if you end up with a favorable decision. But you do have that card and the Area Director knows it.
Based on your readings and the materials presented for your SLP in the first 3 modules, discuss the importance of creating range and alternatives in preparing for such a negotiation.