OSHA Defense & Understanding the OSHA Inspection Process
OSHA inspections can result in substantial fines and penalties when violations are found. To avoid such fines and penalties, it is important for construction professionals to understand their rights before, during, and after an OSHA inspection, including the right to decline a compliance officer when they attempt to inspect their construction job site.
Here is a list provided by the Clearwater contractor lawyers at Cotney Construction Law of what to expect before, during, and after an OSHA inspection.
Before: The Opening Conference
OSHA inspections are usually prompted when one of the following situations arise:
1. A current or former employee files a complaint regarding workplace conditions.
2. A fatality or catastrophe, which is defined as an accident at the workplace that results in the hospitalization of five or more employees occurs.
3. A follow-up inspection, which occurs in connection with violations found during prior inspections.
4. Targeted or programmed inspection, which is a planned inspection generally in high-hazard industries.
By law, every OSHA inspection is required to start with an opening conference. When an OSHA inspector arrives at your construction job site, the compliance officer should show their official credentials. During the opening conference, the compliance officer should explain the reasons for the visit, scope of the inspection, any standards that may apply, and produce any search warrants if applicable. The compliance officer should also provide the employer with a copy of any employee complaints that may be involved in the inspection.
The opening conference should also establish the type of inspection that will be allowed (either a partial or comprehensive inspection) and who the authorized employer representative will be. All employers have the right to deny an inspection until a search warrant is obtained. It is instrumental that employers take due care to preserve this right.
During: The Walkthrough
Once the opening conference has concluded, the inspection will initiate. The compliance officer and accompanying representatives will perform a walk-though of the job site inspecting work areas for safety and health hazards. During this time, the authorized employer representative should chronicle the inspection by keeping very detailed notes including photos, measurements, and the like, omitting any personal editorial as this could be used as evidence should litigation ensue. Any information gathered by the compliance officer should be duplicated for record purposes by the authorized employer representative. At no point should the authorized employer representative make concessions of violations or operational deficiencies. Anything that is said or observed can be used against the employer at a later time.
OSHA has the right to interview employees in private. However, an employer may request the presence of a Clearwater contractor lawyer during interviews with management level employees, and may also request that all interviews be conducted outside of business hours and off of the premises.
After: The Closing Conference
At the conclusion of the inspection, a closing conference will be held. During the closing conference, the compliance officer will meet with the employer and/or any involved representatives to discuss any violations found. After the closing conference has ended, it is recommended to create a record in the form of a memorandum from management to a Clearwater contractor lawyer documenting all topics that were discussed with the OSHA representative, all persons present before, during, and after the inspection, who said what, and any other important details such as the chronology of the inspection.
Why Hire a Clearwater Contractor Lawyer
To reduce or even eliminate the harsh penalties that are often associated with OSHA violations, it is imperative to have an experienced Clearwater contractor lawyer as your representation when dealing with an OSHA violation. Dealing with OSHA violations can be extremely frustrating and often requires the knowledge of experienced Clearwater contractor lawyers to obtain successful outcomes.
If you are in need of a professional construction law firm, please submit our contact request form for more information.
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.