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What You Need to Know About OSHA’s Phone/Fax Investigations Part 2

At Cotney Construction Law, our OSHA defense lawyers provide legal defense for construction companies against citations and complaints filed with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). We provide aggressive defense for construction clients across the United States. In this two-part series, an OSHA lawyer is discussing a relatively new procedure conducted by OSHA: phone/fax investigations.

In the first part, we covered how these investigations happen typically after an electronic complaint has been filed through the safety and health agency’s website. In this section, we will walk you through the process of responding to a claim during the telephone/fax investigation process. Even if the claim that was electronically submitted is entirely bogus, consult with one of our attorneys before you submit a response to any type of OSHA investigation, including phone/fax investigations.      

OSHA’s Process of Investigating a Claim With Phone/Fax

It’s important that contractors are mindful of the fact that just because OSHA elects to conduct a phone/fax investigation, this doesn’t mean that they will not conduct an onsite investigation at a later date. If the agency is not satisfied with the response to the claim offered by the contractor, they will request to send a compliance officer to visit the site and investigate further.

After OSHA receives a complaint, and they determine that it does not meet their criteria for an on-site evaluation, they will follow this procedure to assess the issue using a phone/fax investigation:

  1. An OSHA agent telephones the employer. During this conversation, the agent informs the employer of the alleged hazards that exist at their workplace. They may divulge the date that this complaint was filed along with other information relevant to the report.
  2. OSHA follows up this phone conversation with a fax or a letter that details the complaint. This document informs the employer that they are required to submit a response to the allegations within five days.
  3. The employer’s response should address the allegations. This is where the services of an OSHA lawyer can be extremely valuable. The employer can either acknowledge that a safety issue exists and provide corrective actions to improve the safety conditions on the project site or deny the allegations if the circumstances of the complaint are unlikely to hold up. It’s important to have an attorney draft this response for you.  
  4. If OSHA finds that the response is adequate, the agency will not conduct an investigation. Of course, if OSHA deems the complaint insufficient, they may request to perform an onsite inspection of your workplace.        

If you would like to speak with one of our OSHA defense attorneys, 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.