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Tips for Interacting With OSHA Compliance Officers Part 2

If OSHA shows up at your jobsite tomorrow, would you know what to do?

As OSHA attorneys, we have ample experience interacting with OSHA, but dealing with the agency is not as commonplace for most construction professionals. Perhaps you’ve never had an OSHA inspection and all of a sudden they are at your door. Maybe you’ve handled an inspection before, but it was years ago.

Being prepared for interactions with OSHA compliance officers is essential. This three-part article began with Part 1, in which our OSHA lawyers addressed mandatory response time, professionalism, and your right to turn away an officer.

Record Your Own Inspections

It is important to take your own notes during the walkthrough. If the inspector takes a picture, you should take the same picture. If a measurement is taken, double check the same measurement.

If there are any discrepancies, ask the instructor to note this in the file. If they do not honor your request, you should record the date and time, and the fact that they did not include what you asked. Regardless of whether they include it, make sure all your documentation is saved in a safe place. It also is prudent to have more than one copy.

Do Not Sign a Statement

If an OSHA officer asks you to sign something, your answer should be “no.”

An investigator may write down what you say during an interview and ask you to sign in order to verify what you said. However, you must be aware that they have probably not shed you in the best light. Remember, an OSHA officer will never give a statement that vindicates you.

Sometimes an OSHA officer may go so far as to try to trick you into signing by asking you to read a document and sign as an affirmation that you understand. If this occurs, you should just say, “Yes, I read and understand the document.” The officer can make a note of your verbal yes; there is no need for you to sign anything.

Remember, signing includes initialing a document. Even a seemingly harmless, “Would you please initial here to verify that I showed you the document?” can get you into a bind if you go to court.

This article is continued in Part 3.

If you would like to speak with one of our OSHA lawyers, 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.