It’s something that many construction site managers dread: a visit from an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) compliance officer. Even when their jobsites are in full compliance with federal law, construction managers are still apprehensive of OSHA inspections, and for good reason — OSHA compliance officers often arrive unannounced and wield the power to issue fines and stop-work orders. To further complicate matters, a new wave of OSHA compliance officers will soon be entering the field.
Below, we’ll be discussing why OSHA jobsite inspections are expected to increase in the near future. If you are faced with an impending OSHA inspection or are dealing with the repercussions of one, consult with an OSHA defense lawyer.
A New Wave of Inspectors
In an April statement made before the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, former Secretary of Labor, Alexander Acosta, stated that a blanket approval allowed OSHA to hire 76 new inspectors in 2018. Acosta went on to say that “OSHA has been hard at work to onboard and train new inspectors and expects to have a significant increase in inspectors in 2019.” Training these inspectors takes one to three years, meaning that these inspectors will soon be prepared to conduct inspections. Furthermore, the President’s 2020 budget request includes an increase in OSHA’s budget to cover additional personnel, including 30 additional compliance officers and five whistleblower investigators.
With an increase in staff size and budget, it’s clear that OSHA has no intention of slowing down. In fact, the number of inspections has been steadily rising with over 32,000 inspections conducted in both 2017 and 2018, exceeding the number of inspections in 2016. With OSHA fines as severe as ever, construction managers must be prepared when an OSHA inspector arrives on-site.
Know What to Do When Faced With an Inspection
While OSHA inspectors are known for conducting inspections without advance notice, it doesn’t mean that you can’t be prepared. First, as stipulated in the OSHA Fact Sheet, you are well within your rights to require compliance officers to obtain an inspection warrant before entering the jobsite. You can also take steps to ensure that an inspection goes smoothly by ensuring that any pertinent safety documents can be made available upon request. With the frequency of OSHA inspections increasing, construction companies can’t afford to ignore safety concerns until they are surprised by an OSHA compliance officer. Consult with an OSHA defense lawyer to ensure that you implement the necessary steps on your jobsite to both avoid and pass OSHA inspections.
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.