No one wants to deal with an OSHA investigation. This stressful, intrusive procedure can interrupt work flow at your jobsite. While the chances of an OSHA inspector showing up at your door are relatively slim, you don’t want to take any chances. Being unprepared for an OSHA investigation is one of the worst non-actions you can not take for your business. OSHA fines can be hefty and the damage to your reputation can be substantial.
In the first part of our series on preparing for an OSHA investigation, we focussed on steps to take prior to an OSHA investigation that can ensure that the process runs smoothly. Now, we will go over the inspection process itself and what actions you need to take to control it and promote a positive outcome.
The OSHA investigation starts with an opening conference. It’s here that the OSHA inspector will provide information about the scope of the investigation. This is where you can set you own ground rules for the process. You may require the inspector to wear protective equipment. You may also set ground rules for specific areas that they may enter, including areas with government classification. It would be helpful to have an OSHA attorney represent you during this process.
Walk Around Inspection
The OSHA inspector will spend the bulk of his or her time on site walking around, taking notes, and talking to employees. Here’s a few tips to consider during this process:
- Always have a company official or an OSHA defense attorney accompany the inspector.
- Be courteous. It sounds obviously, but OSHA inspections can be tense. Remember, you can kill more flies with honey than vinegar.
- You have the right to limit conversations with employees to a set time so as not to disrupt work flow.
- Be sure to take notes and pictures of the items that the inspector is taking notes and pictures of.
It’s important to note that employees have a right to deny an interview request or request to have a representative present.
Request for Documents
OSHA inspectors will often ask for information including safety data and training information. It’s important to ask the inspector to make these requests via email so that you have a record of the request. Prior to inspection, organization is vital. Make sure that all documents are easy to access. This sets a good tone for the investigation and may make it go more smoothly.
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.