Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) - MOSH
- Who is covered by the MOSH Act?
- How does MOSH work?
- What happens if violations are found during an inspection?
- What happens if the employer disagrees with the citation and penalty?
- When must penalties be paid?
- What rights do employees have under the MOSH Act?
Who is covered by the MOSH Act?
The MOSH Act covers every Maryland employer in a business, trade, commercial or industrial activity, who has one or more employees, including State and local governments. The Act does not affect workplaces covered under certain other laws such as the Atomic Energy Act, the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act, and the Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act. The MOSH Act does not apply to working conditions of employees of the federal government or any agency or instrumentality of a federal government agency. Those workers are covered under the Federal OSHA program.
How does MOSH work?
MOSH strives to ensure that Maryland workplaces are safe and healthful through the use of enforcement, training, and consultation strategies. Safety and health requirements designed to assure safe and healthful workplaces are set out in the law and in standards, which are legally enforceable regulations governing conditions, practices, or operations. Maryland has adopted the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Standards contained in Title 29 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 1910 for General Industry, Part 1926 for Construction, and Part 1928 for Agriculture. Consequently, Maryland employers are not subject to dual sets of standards. In addition to the federal standards, MOSH has adopted several regulations unique to Maryland.
MOSH is funded by both state and federal appropriations. In order to maintain federal approval, Maryland's program is continually evaluated by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration to ensure that MOSH is "as effective as" the federal program.
What happens if violations are found during an inspection?
For each apparent violation found during an inspection, the inspector will discuss with the employer the nature of the violation, possible abatement measures to correct the condition, and the time frame for completing abatement measures.
If citations are issued, the citation or a copy of the citation must be posted at or near the place of the violation for 3 working days or until the violation is corrected, whichever is longer. If the employer does not wish to contest the citation and penalty, the employer must:
- Correct the condition by the date set in the citation, notifying the Assistant Commissioner in writing that the cited condition has been corrected; and,
- Pay the penalty, if one is proposed. Checks or money orders should be made payable to the Division of Labor and Industry - MOSH. Write the citation number on the check or money order and mail the payment to Maryland Occupational Safety and Health, 10946 Golden West Drive, Suite 160, Hunt Valley, MD 21031.
What happens if the employer disagrees with the citation and penalty?
If the employer disagrees with the citation and/or penalty, the first step is to file a notice of contest with the Assistant Commissioner. The employer must notify the Assistant Commissioner of intent to contest, in writing, within 15 working days after receipt of a citation and notification of penalty. Working days are Monday through Friday, excluding State holidays. The Notice of Contest must clearly state what is being contested: the citation, the penalty, the abatement date, or any combination. The employer has the option of having a formal hearing held in a MOSH regional office, in the county where the violation occurred, or in Baltimore City. Unless the employer wants the hearing held in Baltimore City, the employer must indicate the location preference when submitting the Notice of Contest.
The employer also may request an informal conference. The employer may use the informal conference to obtain a more complete understanding of specific standards, discuss ways to correct the violation, questions concerning proposed penalties, problems with abatement dates, problems concerning employee safety practices, and discuss informal settlement of the case without further legal proceedings. An informal conference does not extend the 15 working day period within which the employer must either pay penalties or file a notice of contest.
When a citation is contested, the MOSH case file is forwarded to an Assistant Attorney General who will be assigned to present the case. An employer may request a pre-hearing conference with the Assistant Attorney General to attempt to resolve or narrow issues or to discuss a settlement of the case. If a settlement cannot be reached, a Hearing Examiner will be assigned to hear the case. The Hearing Examiner's written determination will become the final order of the Commissioner unless petitioned for review. Any affected party may file a petition to the Commissioner to review the determination within 15 working days of receiving the determination. The Commissioner may review the determination with or without a hearing. The Commissioner may affirm, modify, or vacate the determination of the Hearing Examiner. Any final order of the Commissioner may be appealed to the Circuit Court.
When must penalties be paid?
Penalties must be paid within 15 working days after receipt of the citation and notification of penalty. However, if the employer files a notice of contest, the employer is not required to pay penalties on the items contested until a final decision is made on the appeal. Once a final decision has been reached, either from an uncontested penalty, a settlement agreement as a result of an informal conference, a settlement agreement reached with an Assistant Attorney General, a determination of a Hearing Examiner, the Commissioner, or the Circuit Court, any outstanding penalties must be paid. If the employer fails to pay the penalty or make satisfactory arrangements for payment, the case will be forwarded to the State of Maryland Central Collections Unit (CCU). CCU charges an additional 17% as a collection expense.
What rights do employees have under the MOSH Act?
The MOSH Act gives employees certain rights:
- The right to file a complaint with the Commissioner of Labor and Industry without fear of discharge or discrimination, with the right to seek redress if discriminated against for exercising this right. Employees who believe they have been discriminated against by an employer have the right to file a written complaint with the Commissioner within 30 days of the occurrence.
- The right to have an authorized representative accompany a MOSH inspector during an inspection.
- The right to have all citations posted so the employees will know of any violations found by a MOSH inspector.
- The right to obtain an informal review by the Commissioner for any refusal to issue a citation after employees have notified the Commissioner in writing of alleged violations.
- The right to participate as an affected employee in a hearing contesting a citation, or to contest the period of time allowed for abatement of a violation as unreasonable.
- The right to participate in the standards setting process by offering evidence and comments on proposed standards.
- The right to appeal to the appropriate court on grounds that the Commissioner's action in setting a standard is not based on substantial evidence.
- The right to obtain and participate in a hearing on an employer's request for a variance to a standard.
- The right to bring a mandamus action to compel the Commissioner to enjoin or restrain an imminent danger situation.
- The right, under certain standards, to labels and material safety data sheets or other appropriate forms of warning to alert employees to the hazards to which they are exposed.
- The right to suitable protective equipment under certain circumstances.
- The right, under certain standards, to observe the monitoring of toxic or harmful substances and to have access to records or monitoring.
- The right to medical examinations and tests under certain circumstances, and employee access to such records.