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Tips for Interacting With OSHA Compliance Officers Part 1

If you are a construction professional, knowing how to interact with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is critical.

Dealing with the administration is commonplace for an OSHA attorney, but typically not as big a part of a construction professional’s everyday life. If you’ve gone years without a visit from OSHA or perhaps never before experienced one, would you be flustered if a compliance officer showed up at your office or jobsite?

This three-part article will provide tips and facts that will help you prepare.

Mandatory Response Time

First and foremost, it is important to note that you have obligations to OSHA the moment they contact you―whether or not this is through an in-person visit from an OSHA compliance officer.

In the event that OSHA contacts you in any way, you are legally required to respond within five working days. This is also a good time to contact an experienced OSHA defense lawyer.

The Right to Turn Away an Officer

There are only two ways an OSHA compliance officer can enter your facility, office, or jobsite:

  1. They have a warrant
  2. You invite them in

A warrant is actually harder to come by than most people assume. There are instances in which even some of the most experienced construction professionals think they have no other choice than to let OSHA into their jobsite, but this is certainly not the case.

You have more rights than you may know, including the right to:

  • Refuse entry if the inspector doesn’t have a warrant
  • Stop an investigation at any time in the process
  • Request a different inspector if you have an issue with the current officer

Be Firm But Professional

You have rights, but the compliance officer naturally holds a strong degree of power over the situation. It is inadvisable to ever full-on argue with an OSHA inspector.

Even if you think you are in the right, it is imperative to maintain a calm and professional demeanor at all times. It is also more appropriate to voice disagreements during the closing conference of the inspection than during the walkthrough when the officer is busy taking measurements, photos, notes, etc. That said, it is perfectly acceptable to ask questions and advisable to take your own notes during the walkthrough.

This three-part article is continued in Part 2 and Part 3.

If you would like to speak with an OSHA defense lawyer, please contact us today.

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.