The Order of Registration on a Call of Inspection of OSHA

Calling for an Inspection

If an inspection is needed or wanted the official OSHA complaint form should be completed. The form can be requested from OSHA or a local Council for Occupational Safety and Health (COSH) group. The completed form should be mailed, faxed, or delivered to the OSHA area office. If there is imminent danger, call OSHA in addition to any other action you has taken.

Your Right to An Inspection

OSHA normally investigates complaints by faxing a letter to the employer instead of performing an on-site inspection. OSHA requires the employer to respond within five working days however if a written and signed complaint that records a hazard or violation and wants OSHA to come to the area of work then they must do an on-site inspection. If OSHA decides not to inspect a written notification of the reasons should be sent to the required personnel. Any complaints or questions can be taken to the OSHA area director or the regional administrator.

Advance Notice

Advance notice of an inspection will be given only under four conditions:

  1. If there is imminent danger and management needs to fix the condition immediately
  2. If the inspection is to take place after regular business hours or when certain preparations are necessary
  3. If management and worker representative are not likely to be present for the on-site visit.
  4. If there is a need for a more complete investigation such as a fatality report

Advance notice is rarely given. If OSHA gives an advance notice then it is required to inform the union and in the absence of a union, OSHA is only required to inform the management. It is a criminal offense for an OSHA employee to give unauthorized advance notice.

Preparing For the Inspection

Once a complaint is filed, it is necessary to be ready for an inspection. For a complaint that is considered serious, an inspection can occur within thirty days, if not call and ask about a delay. The relevant OSHA standards and complaint form should be reviewed. Notes should be made about new problems or any changes that occur within the workplace. The facility’s OSHA-required Log and Summary of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses should be reviewed.

Designate an Employee Representative

It is required by law and a right for a worker-authorized representative to accompany the inspection, whether it was requested or a scheduled OSHA inspection. The employer cannot choose the worker’s representative under any condition. The worker’s representative should be an employee. If a union is not present in the workplace, the inspector is unaccompanied and is required to talk to a reasonable amount of employees. The inspector can also include others to accompany him on an inspection. It is not required to pay a worker’s representative unless stated otherwise.

The Inspection

The inspection consists of a couple of steps which include an opening conference, a walk-around of the workplace, and a closing conference. An inspection can range from a few hours to even several weeks, which is affected by the size of the workplace, the number of hazards, and other factors. The employer can ask the OSHA to go to court for an inspection warrant before allowing entry which can delay the inspection.

The Opening Conference

The inspector arrives and holds a brief meeting with the representatives of management and employees to explain the purpose of the inspection. If either party denies a joint opening conference, a separate opening conference will be held for each. If the inspection includes employees of a separate employer the inspection may include other employee representatives. The inspector normally checks the OSHA required Log and Summary of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses or other OSHA records before the walkaround.

The Walkaround

The inspector along with management and employee representative will check on the safety or health hazards outlined in the form, the inspector can also check for other hazards or expand the scope of the inspection to the entire workplace. The inspector should talk to affected employees and the employees are entitled to privacy and confidentiality when talking to the inspector during the inspection. Private interviews can also be conducted outside the workplace. The inspector should encourage the workers to point out the hazards and describe past illnesses, accidents, and worker complaints.

The inspector is required to inform the employer and the employee’s representative of the violations as they are recorded. The conditions should be normal throughout the inspection with no shutdown machines, opened windows, or a change in any of the regular conditions. If the inspector cannot observe hazards that have been brought to his attention the employee’s representative should explain how employees were exposed. The inspector may have a set of tools to measure various stimuli such as noise, fumes, dust, or other hazardous conditions. OSHA must provide summaries of sampling results if it is requested.

The Closing Conference

It is required for the inspector to have a closing conference whether it is a joint or a separate conference at the end of the inspection. If a separate conference is requested the employee representative conference will be held first to gain more employee input. OSHA will discuss the violations seen and on ways to correct hazards, certain deadlines, and possibly fines. If extra information such as sampling results are requested then a second closing conference will be held. The inspector will also inform the employee’s representative on various matters and rights they have.

OSHA Citations

The employer can be issued citations and financial penalties for violating certain OSHA standards or regulations, employees are not fined for violations of their responsibilities. Citations should be issued within six months of a violation and these citations are to be mailed to the employee representative within 24 hours after it is sent to the employer. Any employee can request for a citation.

07 July 2022
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