If you learn that OSHA will be inspecting your worksite, it is essential to have a game plan. Different issues could prompt the visit, including a recent accident or a reported concern from an employee, or it may be a regularly scheduled site review. Whatever the situation, be sure to prepare and name a spokesperson.
This representative will be responsible for keeping the visit on track and answering questions from the certified safety and health official (CSHO). You can choose the site superintendent or another employee who seems suited to the role. It is critical to select someone who is knowledgeable about safety issues and has a calm and professional demeanor.
Greeting the CSHO
When the inspector arrives onsite, your spokesperson should greet the visitor. This initial move demonstrates a willingness to cooperate with the process. Never give the appearance that your employees are trying to hide from or avoid the CSHO.
Upon arrival, the CSHO will hold an opening conference with the site superintendent and other key employees. At that time, the CSHO will explain the purpose of the visit.
Accompanying the Inspector
The spokesperson should accompany the CSHO on a walkthrough of the site. This approach provides your company with more control and is a better option than allowing the CSHO to independently investigate the area.
The CSHO will likely talk to a variety of employees. The spokesperson can help facilitate those meetings and ensure their timely completion. Note that employees have the right for a representative, including a lawyer, to be present during such interviews. They also have the right to delay questioning as needed and to refuse to sign any written statements they disagree with after those meetings.
Throughout the visit, the spokesperson will need to answer questions from the CSHO. This representative should be careful to give specific replies, avoid providing extraneous data and refrain from engaging in small talk or offering personal information. Those extra details could be misunderstood or misused. Remember that nothing said during an OSHA investigation is ever “off the record.”
The visit will conclude with a closing conference, during which the CSHO will summarize the findings. The spokesperson can politely disagree with but should not argue with the CSHO; instead, your representative should professionally acknowledge the conclusions.
When your site is due for an OSHA visit, there are many issues to consider. Choosing the right spokesperson is just one step in ensuring a positive outcome.
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.