As OSHA defense attorneys, we cannot stress enough that contractors need to always prioritize safety measures at their jobsite. If a hazard is present, work needs to be discontinued until the area of concern is closely evaluated and corrected. Even if your workplace is entirely hazard-free, there’s always a chance that an employee will file a false complaint. If one of your employees reports an alleged safety issue with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), it’s critical that you consult with an OSHA attorney.
In this two-part article, an OSHA defense attorney with Cotney Construction Law will discuss OSHA’s process of conducting phone/fax investigations after a complaint is submitted. In this section, we will discuss the brief history of this new investigation procedure. We will then go into more detail about OSHA’s process when investigating a claim via phone/fax. Remember, even if your workplace is in compliance with the standards governed by OSHA, you should consult with an experienced attorney before responding to a claim.
OSHA’s Phone/Fax Investigations
OSHA launched its online complaint form in December of 2013. Naturally, the number of electronic complaints by whistleblowers has increased annually since the creation of this online form. Typically, when a complaint is filed electronically through the government agency’s website, OSHA addresses the issue with a phone/fax investigation. As OSHA states on their own website, the “phone/fax method enables the agency to respond more quickly to hazards.” If any complaints meet one of the safety agency’s eight criteria, they will conduct an onsite investigation. However, if the claim fails to meet any of these standards, the agency will perform an investigation by phone/fax. Further, any employee or employee representative can request that OSHA perform this type of investigation.
As a contractor, you may not be aware of the rules and regulations related to this investigation procedure. Fortunately, if a complaint is filed involving your jobsite, an OSHA attorney can navigate you through OSHA’s investigation process. To learn more about OSHA’s phone/fax investigation procedure, please read the second part of our series.
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.