OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration may send a compliance officer to perform inspections on construction job sites for a variety of reasons. OSHA may respond to reports of immanent dangers, employee complaints, or accidents that result in serious injury or death with an inspection. OSHA also performs what are known as programmed inspections and follow up inspections following an inspection that resulted in violations.
Below is a list, in order of priority, of the different types of inspections that OSHA performs.
Imminent Danger Inspections
Imminent dangers involve situations where a danger that can cause serious harm or fatality before it can be eliminated through normal OSHA processes is present on a job site. These situations are ranked highly in priority for OSHA. When an OSHA compliance officer suspects that an imminent danger is present on a job site, the compliance officer will contact the employer and request the employer to voluntarily remove the danger or employees that may be impacted by the danger immediately. If the employer denies the compliance officer’s request, OSHA may apply to a Federal District Court for an injunction which prohibits work from being performed so long as the danger is present. If you have been cited for an imminent danger situation, we highly recommend contacting a Tampa construction attorney as soon as possible.
When accidents that result in the fatal injury or hospitalization of three or more employees at a construction job site, OSHA will send a compliance officer to investigate the accident. The primary objective of these types of investigations is to discover the cause of the accident and determine if any OSHA standards were violated. The employer is required to report any such accidents within 8 hours of its occurrence.
After the occurrence of an accident, an inspection will be performed usually within one business day or when the hazard has been removed or contained. The OSHA compliance officer will conduct interviews with supervisors, employees, first responders and enforcement officers, as well as document site conditions. Transcripts of the interviews are typically printed out and presented to the interviewees to review and sign.
Employee Complaint Inspections
Employee or former employees that believe their employer is in violation of an OSHA standard have the right to contact OSHA and request an inspection to be performed on their job site. The complaint must include specifics about the alleged violation and although the employee may request to remain anonymous, they are required to sign the complaint. If after review of the complaint, OSHA determines that there is a violation, a compliance officer will perform an inspection. The inspection may not be limited to the contents of the complaint, and the compliance officer may ask to inspect other areas not mentioned in the complaint.
Programmed inspections are aimed towards particularly hazardous job sites and industries. OSHA performs programmed inspections as a means to reduce levels of hazards associated with such job sites and industries. OSHA selects job sites to perform programmed inspections based on certain factors such as the rate of occurrence of injury, citation history, employee exposure to hazardous substances, or random selection.
If a violation is found during an inspection, compliance officers will typically give the employer an opportunity to correct or contest the violations. If OSHA upholds the citations, a compliance officer will conduct a follow-up inspection to verify that the violations have been addressed and corrected accordingly. If the employer fails to abate a violation, the compliance officer will inform the employer that they are subject to “Failure to Abate” alleged violations, which may include additional penalties until the employer corrects the violation.
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.