Has OSHA ever visited your jobsite? Did you know your rights? Did you feel prepared?
As OSHA defense attorneys, we know that a visit from OSHA can be intimidating to even the most seasoned construction professionals. The best way to prepare is to arm yourself with knowledge and a plan of action.
In Part 1 of this three-part article, our OSHA defense lawyers discussed professionalism, the mandatory response window, and your right to turn away an officer. Part 2 covered why you should record your own notes, photos, and measurements during an inspection and explained why you should never sign a statement.
Have a Plan for Greeting an OSHA Officer
All of your employees should be made aware of how to engage an OSHA inspector upon their arrival.
If an inspector arrives and begins interrogating a random employee, this is usually not good news. OSHA officers can be intimidating and may ask leading questions. Even if you feel your workplace has nothing to hide, things can be taken out of context. Every employee should be instructed to immediately seek out the safety director.
There should also be a plan regarding where the inspector is or isn’t taken. If the employee says, “Follow me!” and begins walking around the jobsite in search of the appropriate superior, the officer will document everything they see. It is best to have a designated holding place for the compliance officer. The employee should engage politely with the inspector (without revealing any company specifics) until the safety director meets them in the predetermined place.
Don’t Talk More Than Necessary
When it comes to OSHA, there is no such thing as “off the record.” Realize that everything you say in the officer’s presence is fair game for them to use. Be careful and don’t feel obligated to engage in unnecessary banter.
Make Sure Your Employees Know the Plan
If your employees don’t know the protocol for greeting and interacting with a potential compliance officer, then the plan is essentially useless.
Employees should be confident in their ability to act in accordance with your company’s wishes in the event of an inspection. Make sure to have everyone brush up on the plan from time to time.
Know the Safety Standards
Speaking of things you should know, you are required to keep a copy of OSHA 1910 (general industry) or 1926 (construction) at each worksite. You, your safety director, or another company representative should know these standards and be able to discuss them with complete confidence.
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.