Programmed Versus Unprogrammed OSHA Inspections
The construction industry has strict on-site regulations to protect the safety and wellness of employees in hazardous zones commonly found in construction job sites. Often, OSHA will send a representative to ensure that job sites are in compliance with their regulations and safety standards. A Brandon contractor attorney can help a contractor better understand these regulations and how they may have an impact on their business.
Below, we will discuss two main types of OSHA inspections: programmed and unprogrammed.
A programmed inspection is an inspection that is conducted by OSHA to verify that randomly selected job sites are in compliance with OSHA’s rules and regulations. Contractors may request to be removed from the programmed inspection list by having a complete safety inspection within the last five fiscal years. Participation in a voluntary compliance program, such as OSHA On-Site Consultation Visits, can also qualify an employer for exemption status from programmed visits.
An unprogrammed inspection is an inspection that is conducted without any prior knowledge of the employer. These visits are often the result of a finding during a programmed inspection or an employee complaint about a hazardous working condition. Unprogrammed inspections are designed to address imminent dangers, fatalities/catastrophes, employee complaints, referrals and follow-up or monitoring inspections.
An imminent danger is a condition or practice within a workplace that is reasonably expected to cause death or serious physical harm immediately, or before measures could be taken to fix the issue.
These investigations can refer to a fatality, a catastrophe, hospitalization or an incident requiring a coordinated federal response. These are defined as:
- Fatality – when an accident or illness that was caused by a workplace hazard results in the death of an employee.
- Catastrophe – the hospitalization of three or more employees due to an accident or illness that was caused by a workplace hazard.
- Hospitalization – refers to an employee who is admitted as an inpatient for observation, examination or treatment.
- Incident Requiring a Coordinated Federal Response – an incident involving multiple fatalities, massive toxic exposure, extensive injuries or property damage or generates widespread media interest.
An employee complaint is simply the notice of an alleged violation of the OSHA regulations. Complaints are considered formal and non-formal. A formal complaint must:
- be submitted by a present employee or representative of the employees.
- allege an imminent danger or violation of OSHA standards poses a health or safety risk to employees.
- be submitted in writing or an OSHA-7 form and signed by one current employee or employee representative.
A complaint is considered non-formal if it does not meet all of the aforementioned criteria of a formal complaint or come from one of the accepted referral sources outlined within the OSHA Field Operations Manual.
Follow-up inspections are conducted to verify that an employer has taken the measures to correct violations found in a previous inspection. Monitoring inspections are conducted when an incident requires an extensive amount period of time to be corrected. These inspections ensure that employees are operating in a safe environment and that all necessary measurements are being taken to remove the hazard.
Having an OSHA inspection can be difficult on a contractor, but there are many reasons one can occur. Understanding what may trigger an OSHA inspection may help contractors be better prepared for a programmed or unprogrammed inspection.
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.