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Employer Rights and Responsibilities after a Public Sector Enforcement Inspection
The Public Sector Enforcement Program of the Maine Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Standards enforces occupational safety and health regulations in public sector workplaces.
Under State law (Title 26, M.R.S.A. § 44) a Public Sector Enforcement Officer (PSEO) may enter your workplace to examine conditions that may affect the safety and health of employees. If the PSEO finds conditions that may be in violation, the findings may result in a violation and penalty. You will receive a Citation that describes the violation(s) and the Notification of Penalty if penalties are assessed.
This website contains important information regarding your rights and responsibilities under the law, including the actions you may take if you receive a citation. Use this information to guide your discussion during the closing conference with the PSEO. For each apparent violation found during the inspection, the PSEO will discuss the following with you:
- The nature of the violation;
- Abatement measures you may take to correct the condition in violation;
- Abatement dates you will be required to meet;
- Possible issuance of penalties by the Director of the Bureau of Labor Standards.
If you receive a Citation and/or Notification of Penalty, you must post it (or a copy of it) at or near the place where the violation occurred to make employees aware of the hazards to which they may be exposed. It must remain posted for 15 work days or until the violation is corrected, whichever is longer. (Saturdays, Sundays, and Federal holidays do not count as working days.) You must comply with this posting requirement even if you appeal the citation and/or penalty.
A copy of the filed appeal must also be posted.
An employer who has been cited may take one of the following courses of action:
- If you agree with the citation and/or penalty, you shall correct the condition by the date set in the citation and pay the penalty, if penalty is assessed; or
- If you do not agree with the citation and/or penalty, you have 15 working days from the date you receive the citation to appeal to the Bureau Director, in writing, for part or all of the following:
- Penalty, and/or
- Abatement date.
If you agree with the citation and penalty: (1) promptly notify the Director of the Bureau of Labor Standards by letter that you have taken appropriate corrective action within the time set forth in the citation and (2) pay any penalties.
The notification you send, called an Abatement Verification, must explain what you did to correct the violation and when you did it. You may be required to send documentation of abatement such as photos, invoices, etc. A sample letter will be enclosed with your citation letter.
If you agree that a cited violation does exist, but you have a valid reason to request an extension of abatement date(s), you may submit a written request for extension to the Bureau Director.
When the Bureau Director issues an extension for abatement time, you must ensure that employees are adequately protected during this time.
Penalty Discussion: The purpose of the discussion is to determine a recommended final penalty . You will be meeting with the Public Sector Enforcement Supervisor or the Director of the Workplace Safety and Health Division. You will receive notice when the discussion is scheduled and where it will be held once we receive the abatement certification(s).
You should be able to describe the manner in which the violation(s) were corrected and the amount spent to correct the violation(s). Such documentation may include work orders, purchase orders, copies of written programs, photos, etc. Without this documentation, the discussion will be limited and the proposed penalty may become final.
This discussion is nonbinding by either organization. The Bureau Director will issue a final order within 10 working days. If you do not agree with the discussion results, you may still request an appeal.
There are several timelines that must be met.
If you do not agree with the citation and/or penalty, you have 15 working days from the date you receive the citation to appeal in writing.
If you do not agree with the penalty, you have 15 working days from the date you receive the citation to request a discussion with the Public Sector Enforcement Supervisor or Director of the Workplace Safety and Health Division.
If you agree to the citation and penalty: (1) promptly notify the Director of the Bureau of Labor Standards by letter that you have taken appropriate corrective action within the time set forth in the citation and (2) pay any penalties.
If you agree that a cited violation does exist, but you have a valid reason to extend the abatement date(s), you may submit a written request for extension to the Bureau Director prior to the passing of the original abatement date
Abatement notification must be sent within 10 days after the abatement date.
If notification to this office is beyond the 15 working day requirement, the Citation Notice becomes final and penalties shall be paid within 30 days of the Final Notice.
You are encouraged to file an appeal if you believe the violation(s) are not valid. The request must be in writing even if you orally stated your disagreement with the violation(s). The Notice of Intent to Appeal must clearly state what is being contested. In addition, the letter must also state whether all the violations or just specific violations, are being appealed.
An appeal of any item or items suspends your legal obligation to abate and pay until the item appealed has been administratively resolved. If only some of the violations are appealed, the remaining shall be abated within the prescribed time frame.
The appeal will take place at the Bureau of Labor Standards. This meeting is presided over by a Hearings Officer. The Board of Occupational Safety and Health will hear the issues and present their findings.
It is important to bring all documentation pertaining to the violation(s) to the Appeal.
Your appeal must be made in good faith. An appeal filed solely to avoid your responsibilities for abatement or payment of penalties will not be considered a good-faith appeal.
Public Sector Enforcement staff are available from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m, Monday through Friday to answer any questions you may have. Please call (207) 623-7900 or TTY: Maine relay 711.