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16VAC25-60-260

Part VI
Citation and Penalty

16VAC25-60-260. Issuance of citation and proposed penalty.

A. Each citation shall be in writing and describe with particularity the nature of the violation or violations, including a reference to the appropriate safety or health provision of Title 40.1 of the Code of Virginia or the appropriate rule, regulation, or standard. In addition, the citation must fix a reasonable time for abatement of the violation. The commissioner shall have authority to propose penalties for cited violations in accordance with § 40.1-49.4 of the Code of Virginia and this chapter. The citation will contain substantially the following: "NOTICE: This citation will become a final order of the commissioner unless contested within fifteen working days from the date of receipt by the employer." The citation may be delivered to the employer or his the employer's agent by the commissioner or may be sent by certified mail or by personal service to an officer or agent of the employer or to the registered agent if the employer is a corporation.

No citation may be issued after the expiration of six months following the occurrence of any alleged violation. The six-month timeframe is deemed to be tolled on the date the citation is issued by the commissioner, without regard for when the citation is received by the employer. For purposes of calculating the six-month timeframe for citation issuance, the following requirements shall apply:

1. The six-month timeframe begins to run on the day after the incident or event occurred or notice was received by the commissioner (as specified in subdivisions 1 through 5 of this subsection), in accordance with § 1-210 A of the Code of Virginia. The word "month" shall be construed to mean one calendar month in accordance with § 1-223 of the Code of Virginia.

2. An alleged violation is deemed to have "occurred" on the day it was initially created by commission or omission on the part of the creating employer, and every day thereafter that it remains in existence uncorrected.

3. Notwithstanding subdivision 1 of this subsection, if an employer fails to notify the commissioner within eight hours of any work-related incident resulting in a fatality or within 24 hours of any work-related incident resulting in (i) the in-patient hospitalization of three one or more persons, within eight hours of such occurrence (ii) an amputation, or (iii) the loss of any eye, as required by § 40.1-51.1 D of the Code of Virginia, the six-month timeframe shall not be deemed to commence until the commissioner receives actual notice of the incident.

4. Notwithstanding subdivision 1 of this subsection, if the commissioner is first notified of a work-related incident resulting in an injury or illness to an employee or employees through receipt of an Employer's Accident Report (EAR) form from the Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission as provided in § 65.2-900 of the Code of Virginia, the six-month timeframe shall not be deemed to commence until the commissioner actually receives the EAR form.

5. Notwithstanding subdivision 1 of this subsection, if the commissioner is first notified of a work-related hazard, or incident resulting in an injury or illness to an employee or employees, through receipt of a complaint in accordance with 16VAC25-60-100 or referral, the six-month timeframe shall not be deemed to commence until the commissioner actually receives the complaint or referral.

B. A citation issued under subsection A of this section to an employer who violates any VOSH law, standard, rule, or regulation shall be vacated if such employer demonstrates that:

1. Employees of such employer have been provided with the proper training and equipment to prevent such a violation;

2. Work rules designed to prevent such a violation have been established and adequately communicated to employees by such employer and have been effectively enforced when such a violation has been discovered;

3. The failure of employees to observe work rules led to the violation; and

4. Reasonable steps have been taken by such employer to discover any such violation.

C. For the purposes of subsection B of this section only, the term "employee" shall not include any officer, management official, or supervisor having direction, management control, or custody of any place of employment which that was the subject of the violative condition cited.

D. The penalties as set forth in § 40.1-49.4 of the Code of Virginia shall also apply to violations relating to the requirements for recordkeeping, reports, or other documents filed or required to be maintained and to posting requirements.

E. In determining the amount of the proposed penalty for a violation, the commissioner will ordinarily be guided by the system of penalty adjustment set forth in the VOSH Field Operations Manual. In any event the commissioner shall consider the gravity of the violation, the size of the business, the good faith of the employer, and the employer's history of previous violations.

The commissioner shall have authority to propose civil penalties to public employers for willful, repeat, and failure-to-abate violations in accordance with subsections I and J of § 40.1-49.4 of the Code of Virginia, and for serious violations that cause death to an employee or are classified as high gravity in accordance with subsection H of § 40.1-49.4.

F. On multi-employer worksites for all covered industries, citations shall normally be issued to an employer whose employee is exposed to an occupational hazard (the exposing employer). Additionally, the following employers shall normally be cited, whether or not their own employees are exposed:

1. The employer who actually creates the hazard (the creating employer);

2. The employer who is either:

a. Responsible, by contract or through actual practice, for safety and health conditions on the entire worksite, and has the authority for ensuring that the hazardous condition is corrected (the controlling employer); or

b. Responsible, by contract or through actual practice, for safety and health conditions for a specific area of the worksite, or specific work practice, or specific phase of a construction project, and has the authority for ensuring that the hazardous condition is corrected (the controlling employer); or

3. The employer who has the responsibility for actually correcting the hazard (the correcting employer).

G. A citation issued under subsection F of this section to an exposing employer who violates any VOSH law, standard, rule, or regulation shall be vacated if such employer demonstrates that:

1. The employer did not create the hazard;

2. The employer did not have the responsibility or the authority to have the hazard corrected;

3. The employer did not have the ability to correct or remove the hazard;

4. The employer can demonstrate that the creating, the controlling, or the correcting employers, as appropriate, have been specifically notified of the hazards to which his the employer's employees were exposed;

5. The employer has instructed his employees to recognize the hazard and, where necessary, informed them how to avoid the dangers associated with it;

6. Where feasible, an exposing employer must have taken appropriate alternative means of protecting employees from the hazard; and

7. When extreme circumstances justify it, the exposing employer shall have removed his the employer's employees from the job.

H. The commissioner's burden of proving the basis for a VOSH citation, penalty, or order of abatement is by a preponderance of the evidence.

I. The burden of proof in establishing an affirmative defense to a VOSH citation resides with the employer.