If the written Notice of Contest has been filed within the required 15 working days, the OSHA area director will forward the case to the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The Commission assigns the case to an administrative law judge who usually will schedule a hearing in a public place close to the workplace. Both employers and employees have the right to participate in this hearing which contains all the elements of a trial, including examination and cross-examination of witnesses. The employer may choose to represent itself or be represented by an attorney. It is the administrative law judge's responsibility to affirm, modify, or eliminate any contested items of the citation of penalty.
As with any other legal procedure, there is an appeals process. Once the administrative law judge has ruled, any party to the case may request a further review by the full Review Commission. In addition, any of the commissioners may, on his or her own motion, bring the case before the entire Commission for review. The Commission's ruling, in turn, may be appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the circuit in which the case arose or for the circuit where the employer has its principal office.