It’s a typical day at the plant. Workers are plugging along on a variety of tasks. You are overseeing their progress and preparing reports for senior management. An unfamiliar person arrives. He states that he is with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and that he is here to do an inspection. What you do from this point on could cost your company money and damage its reputation. However, with preparation and the help of an OSHA attorney, you can handle an inspection properly and reduce any fallout.
Why OSHA is Performing an Inspection
It’s important to understand why OSHA showed up at your workplace because it may dictate how certain aspects of the inspection are handled. The reasons for the inspection may include:
- Programmed: OSHA targets industries and jobs that have a high rate of injury. For example, companies in the construction industry have a higher likelihood of receiving an inspection.
- Investigative: OSHA conducts inspections when three or more workers die or are seriously injured on a jobsite. The inspector will investigate if an OSHA violation led to the incident.
- Employee Complaint: Employees have a right to report dangerous or non-compliant conditions to OSHA. If OSHA determines that the complaint is valid, they will do an inspection.
- Imminent Danger: When circumstances that can cause serious injury or death are present on a jobsite, OSHA immediately conducts an investigation.
Before the Inspection
While many OSHA inspections are unannounced, you can still put measures in place to ensure that you are always ready. Designate someone within your company to be a liaison with OSHA. This should be someone with advanced knowledge of safety and OSHA procedures. This person should also have a backup, in case he or she is unavailable. Having an OSHA defense attorney available for counsel is a wise idea. It’s also critical that you have all pertinent safety documents available.
The Inspection Process
An OSHA inspection has the following components:
- Opening Conference: During the opening conference, the inspector will explain the purpose for the inspection and what items he is looking for. This is a good time to set ground rules for the inspection, including what areas are available, interview procedures, and areas where safety equipment is required.
- Walkthrough: The OSHA inspector will examine the areas in question. He will likely take notes and photos and may request to interview employees at this time.
- Closing Conference: After the walkthrough, the inspector will meet with the representative to explain his findings and list next steps.
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.