Preparing for a Visit from OSHA

Filed in Labor, Safety and Health by on September 22, 2015 1 Comment
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ladyinspectorCurious about what happens during an inspection conducted by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) and how to get ready for one? If so, here are some tips and guidelines that may come in handy.

For starters, before a compliance safety and health officer (CSHO) ever sets foot on the jobsite, builders should:

  • Review their safety programs
  • Be aware of any national and local programs that are currently being emphasized by the administration
  • Develop procedures for a visit and train employees on those procedures
  • Have records (300 Logs, training records, etc.) readily available and up to date
  • Make sure workers are properly trained on the safety requirements of the jobsite

Have a brilliant safety plan in place? Apply for the NAHB/Builders Mutual Safety Award for Excellence. Deadline for submissions is Oct. 2. 

Once the CSHO is on the job site, there are four elements of the inspection that builders should expect and be prepared for.

Arrival. Typically a builder will not get advance notice of a visit. When a CSHO arrives, management should ask for credentials and for the purpose of the inspection, of which there are usually four:

Builders should have a designated area to hold the opening conference and designate which staff members will participate in the discussions and the walk-around.

Opening Conference. Here is where CSHOs will outline in general terms the scope of the inspection, including the need for private employee interviews, physical inspection of the workplace and records, etc. They will also review the company’s personal protective equipment hazard assessment and the OSHA 300 injury and illness logs and 300A summary forms. As such, it is very  important for the injury logs and forms to be thorough, up-to-date and readily available to the inspector.

Walk-Around. The scope of the walk-around could include a comprehensive tour of the facility, or be specific to one area that may have been the site of an employee complaint or hazardous incident.

Management should accompany the CSHO on the entire walk-around and should take the same pictures and videos as the inspector in case there is any question on a citation issued on a hazard. During the inspection, the CSHO may also suggest ways to address a hazard that can be corrected on the spot.

While inspecting the jobsite, the CSHO may conduct interviews with employees and management in a private setting. Management should plan on sitting in on all interviews and take notes unless the CSHO wants to conduct an employee interview privately, which he has the authority to do.

Closing Conference. Following the inspection of the site, a closing conference will take place between the CSHO and the home builder. The CSHO will not indicate how any proposed violations will be characterized (serious, other than serious, etc.) or what the proposed penalty amounts will be. During this meeting management should take detailed notes and discuss with the CSHO any abatement steps that may be needed.

Post-Inspection & Citation Options. If the CSHO finds reasons to cite the company, the builder should expect to receive the citation by certified mail within 15 working days. The builder must immediately post a copy of the citation in a visible location where the violation occurred. This must be posted until the violation has been abated or for three working days, whichever is later.

Builders can have an informal conference/settlement with the CSHO where abatement suggestions are provided and the builder has an opportunity to explain why the citations are not justified. This may result in a penalty reduction, a classification reduction or withdrawal.

The more formal response is through a notice of contest. A short letter must be filed within 15 working days from receipt of the citation and should contest everything — citation items, abatement dates and proposed penalties.

The notice of contest takes it out of the hands of the CSHO and moves it to a solicitor in OSHA’s legal department. In these cases, builders should engage the solicitor early in the process to discuss why citations are unwarranted or inappropriate.

Builders can and should reduce or eliminate the chance of being cited by OSHA by making sure they have their “house in order” long before an inspector arrives at the job site.

For instruction on how to put together a safety program for your employees, or more details on OSHA site visits, visit nahb.org/safety, or contact Rob Matuga, NAHB Labor, Safety and Health at 800-368-5242 x8507.

Comments (1)

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  1. Lisa Robinson says:

    I would hope that people are also aware of UOSH Consultation. Consultation can help small businesses put a safety program together as well as other written programs, conduct site visits and assist in a variety of ways to help them become compliant in their field-without citations and penalties.

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