Managing the OSHA Inspection Process: Frequently Asked Questions (Part 1)
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) conducts inspections of construction workplaces and job sites to ensure compliance of the OSHA health and safety standards. To mitigate risk, it is critical for employers to be prepared, understand their rights, and control the flow of information during such inspections.
Provided below is information in the form of frequently asked questions that will help better prepare you for an OSHA inspection. For assistance with violations or for more information on your rights during an OSHA inspection, please contact a Clearwater construction lawyer that is experienced with OSHA health and safety standards.
1. What If an OSHA Inspector Arrives Unannounced?
On occasion, OSHA inspectors may find themselves unannounced on your construction site. Don't panic, request for the inspector to wait, usually no more than one hour, in a controlled space until the designated management representative or OSHA liaison is available to greet them. Once the management representative or OSHA liaison is able to attend to the inspector, they should examine the inspector's credentials and request an opening conference to determine the reason for the inspection and other pertinent details, such as the extent and limitations of the inspection, amount of time needed for the inspection, and details about how the inspection will be conducted.
2. Should I Sign Employee Witness Statements?
As Clearwater construction lawyers, we strongly advise against employers or employer representatives signing off on employee witness statements. These statements are prepared by OSHA inspectors as evidence to support claims of OSHA violations, and in many cases are misleading and often hold false information. It is the right of the employee to elect to have a person in a management position, such as a supervisor, project manager, superintendent, foreman, or crew leader to be present during OSHA interviews. This is especially beneficial to employers as this allows them the opportunity to correct any misunderstandings of the information the employee provides.
3. Should I Have Legal Counsel to Assist With an Inspection?
In short, yes. While each inspection is different, it is always beneficial to have the expertise of a qualified Clearwater contractor lawyer during OSHA inspections. However, the level of your counsel's involvement will depend on the circumstances of the inspection. If the inspection is due to a serious infraction that led to the death or serious injury of an employee, the level of involvement of your legal counsel will likely be much greater than the involvement needed for an inspection brought on by a minor violation.
4. What Should I Do After an Inspection?
After an OSHA inspection has been conducted, it is recommended to review the inspection and any comments left by the inspector with the inspection team and upper management. After the findings of the inspection have been discussed, it is important for any violations that were found during the inspection to be corrected. If the inspector provides timelines for violations to be corrected by, be sure to have them completed prior to the due date. If an inspector finds the employer is not in compliance in a follow-up inspection, the fines may be up to ten times the amount of the original penalty. If you feel that your violation is unwarranted, we recommend seeking the guidance of a qualified construction lawyer to assist with contesting the citation.
To speak with a construction lawyer from Cotney Attorneys & Consultants, 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.