OSHA’s “Look Back” Window to Issue Repeat Citations is Unlimited

By Eric J. Conn and Dan C. Deacon

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit recently issued an opinion granting OSHA the ultimate leeway to characterize citations as Repeat.  The case involved a Repeat excavation-related OSHA citation issued to Triumph Construction Corp. in 2014.  OSHA based the Repeat characterization on a prior violation of the same excavation standard confirmed against Triumph from 2009.

Triumph asserted to the OSHRC Administrative Law Judge and to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit that the Repeat citation was not appropriate because the amount of time that had passed from the original 2009 citation to the new 2014 alleged violation (nearly five years) was outside OSHA’s stated Repeat look-back policy in its Field Operations Manual.  The OSHA Field Operations Manual in effect in 2014 was the 2009 version, which provided for a three year look-back period to find prior violations to serve as the basis for a Repeat violation.

In a 2016 update to the Fields Operations Manual, the Obama Administration expanded the Repeat look-back period to five-years.  Regardless what the FOM said, the Triumph case implicated broader issues of whether OSHA’s policy created an strict statute of limitations for the Repeat look-back and whether OSHA has the authority, on a whim, to change enforcement policies like the Repeat look-back period without rulemaking or legislation.

The ALJ upheld the Repeat citation, and on appeal, the Second Circuit in Triumph Construction Corp. v. Sec. of Labor (Docket No. 16‐4128‐ag, March 14, 2018), held that because neither the OSH Act nor any regulations promulgated under the Act mandate or restrict any look-back time period for Repeat violations, OSHA was not bound by its own stated policy.  OSHA has the discretion, in other words, to search an employer’s citation history as far back as it wishes to identify any prior substantially similar violations to serve as the basis for a present “repeat” violation. Continue reading

Announcing Conn Maciel Carey’s 2018 OSHA Webinar Series

The Trump Administration has taken the reins at OSHA, and the first year of the new OSHA’s enforcement and regulatory (or de-regulatory) agenda is in the books.  We have already seen significant changes in the way OSHA does business and the tools available to the Agency in its toolkit.  Now, as the new Administration finishes filling out the OSHA leadership team with its own appointees, we are sure to see shifting of enforcement priorities, budgets and policies, and an amplified effort to repeal or re-interpret controversial Obama-era OSHA rules and policies.  Accordingly, it is critical to stay abreast of OSHA developments.

Conn Maciel Carey’s complimentary 2018 OSHA Webinar Series, presented by the firm’s national OSHA Practice Group, is designed to give employers insight into changes and developments at OSHA during this period of flux.

To register for an individual webinar, click the link below the program description.  To register for the entire 2018 series, click here to send us an email request, and we will register you.  If you missed any programs from prior years, here is a link to an archive of recordings of those webinars.


OSHA’s 2017 in Review & 2018 Forecast

Tuesday, January 16th

New Cal/OSHA Enforcement Issues

Tuesday, July 10th

Unlock the Mysteries of OSHA’s Lockout/Tagout Standard

Tuesday, February 20th

Future of OSHA’s Policy
of Public Shaming

Tuesday, August 21st

OSHA’s New Leadership Team

Tuesday, March 20th

Walking/Working Surfaces Update

Tuesday, September 18th

OSHA’s New Silica & Beryllium Rules

Tuesday, April 17th

Repeat, Willful & Egregious CiTations

Tuesday, October 16th

OSHA’s New E-Recordkeeping
and Anti-Retaliation Rule

Tuesday, May 5th

 Process Safety Update:
OSHA PSM and EPA RMP

Tuesday, November 13th

Joint- and Multi-Employers,
Contractors and Temps

Tuesday, June 5th

OSHA and the ADA: How Two
Labor Laws Align and Diverge

Tuesday, December 4th

See below for descriptions of the webinars and registration links

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