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Understanding OSHA’s Investigation Process

As Texas OSHA defense lawyers, we often stress how important it is for construction firms to remain safety compliant. Whether providing legal advice, a third-party audit of a jobsite, or defense against a citation from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), our construction attorneys are committed to representing construction companies in all of their safety-related legal matters. 

In order to mitigate the chances of being issued a citation, construction firms need to have an in-depth understanding of OSHA’s investigation process. In this article, a Texas OSHA lawyer will discuss each stage of this process. 

Before OSHA Arrives

Before we delve into the general inspection process conducted by OSHA, lets first discuss the most common reasons why an investigation occurs. Some of the most common reasons why a jobsite is investigated include:

  • Any situations involving imminent danger
  • If an accident leads to the death of a worker 
  • Instances in which a worker is seriously injured on the job
  • Worker complaints reported to OSHA
  • Repeat OSHA offenders are targeted for inspections
  • Jobsites issued fines have follow-up inspections

When OSHA Arrives

An OSHA compliance officer will arrive at the jobsite and show the employer their credentials. They will sit down with the employer and explain the reason for their visit. During this opening conference, an OSHA officer provides insight into the scope of their investigation, the walkaround procedures they will conduct, and their intent to interview employees. Lastly, the compliance officer will inform the employer that a representative can be selected to accompany them during their inspection.   

During the Walkaround 

Although each and every investigation can differ depending on the nature of the visit, the compliance officer will inspect the workplace and identify any potential hazards. They will also conduct private individual interviews with several of the employees, asking them questions related to safety and training in the workplace. 

At the End of the Visit

At the end of their walkaround, the compliance officer will sit down with the employer and their representative and discuss the findings, potential corrective actions, and a reasonable date to make these corrections by. The OSHA compliance officer will also provide the employer with potential courses of action they can take. They will then complete an incident report detailing their visit. This report includes any relevant information related to what they discussed with the employer and any potential infractions discovered during the investigation. This report is then sent to OSHA’s area director. 

After the Visit

The area director assesses the report and decides if any violations discovered during the investigation should result in a citation. If a citation is issued, the employer has 15 days to respond to the infraction. An employer can either challenge the citation or request an informal conference with the area director to discuss anything related to the citations. 

If you would like to speak with a Texas OSHA lawyer, please contact us today.

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.