The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) oversees approximately 7 million worksites. They are most likely to pay a visit to a jobsite following a severe injury or illness, work complaint, or referral. But they are also capable of showing up without prior warning. When an OSHA compliance officer surprises you with an inspection, will you be ready?
Below, we discuss what you can do when an OSHA compliance officer comes knocking. Whether your realize it or not, you do have a say in who can enter your jobsite, investigate your work practices, and interview your employees. When it comes to securing your business, don’t be afraid to exercise your rights, especially when you have an OSHA attorney on your side.
Right to Refuse
As an employer, you have a right to demand a warrant and refuse an OSHA compliance officer entry onto your jobsite. However, there’s very little stopping them from moving the issue up the chain of command and obtaining an inspection warrant or equivalent.
The Compliance Safety and Health Officer shall endeavor to ascertain the reason for such refusal, and shall immediately report the refusal and the reason therefor to the Area Director. The Area Director shall consult with the Regional Solicitor, who shall take appropriate action, including compulsory process, if necessary. (29 CFR § 1903.4)
While you can demand a warrant and bide time, it’s in your best interest to be prepared ahead of time. Consult our OSHA lawyers with any questions you may have regarding the inspection process.
Related: What to Expect When OSHA Inspects
You should always be courteous to an OSHA compliance officer no matter the reason for their visit. There’s no reason to show hostility in what boils down to a legal situation. Above all else, know your rights. You are allowed to appoint a representative to accompany the OSHA compliance officer during the inspection. You may even request that the inspection be delayed, usually up to one hour. In the event that an OSHA compliance officer wishes to expand their investigation beyond its initial scope — let’s say to a potentially hazardous area unrelated to the cause for the initial visit — you can always refuse. Remember, there must be probable cause before OSHA can expand an investigation to any other part of your jobsite.
Related: Court Case Prevents Inspections From Expanding Beyond Their Original Scope
It’s important to have a legal ally on your side who can help you before, during, and after an inspection. Our OSHA lawyers can not only conduct mock inspections to highlight hazards that can lead to an investigation but also represent you in the event that an investigation is initiated. If you are concerned that your site conditions may lead to an investigation, or an OSHA compliance officer has already paid you a visit, consult an OSHA attorney who can help you mitigate hazards, investigations, and potential citations.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.