THE SELECTION. Last month’s newsletter discussed how a practice is chosen by OSHA for an inspection. If you missed it you can view the past newsletters on our website.
THE PHYSICAL INSPECTION. An OSHA Inspector(s) will show up at your door. The inspector will gather basic information on your business and ask to view documents. They will view the physical facility and take pictures. At any time the inspector will also question employees. How long an inspection takes depends on the size of your facility, the experience of your inspector and whether the inspection was random or because your practice was reported for a violation. An inspection can take from one hour to multiple days with an average of 3-4 hours.
THE CLOSING MEETING. After the inspection the inspector will meet with you to go over problems identified. This meeting can occur at the end of the inspection or at a future date. After the closing meeting the inspector will return to their office to write up the report and submit it to their supervisor for processing.
THE CITATION LETTER. After review an official citation letter will be sent to you listing the violations, the date you must fix the violations and the fine being assessed per violation. The document will also include instructions to protest the findings and what information has to be posted for your employees.
ABATEMENT. OSHA expects you to fix the problems identified in a specific timeframe. This is called Abatement. You will have to prepare a report with proof and submit that to OSHA. If you choose to contest the findings, an abatement extension is automatic.
INFORMAL CONFERENCE. This is the first level of contending the violations and/or fines. The informal conference is between the designated individual(s) at your practice and the supervisor of the OSHA Inspector. At your request, the TMC Mediator can also participate to support you. This conference can usually be handled by phone and allows you to provide additional data for consideration and request the removal or reduction of violations or fines. The violations and fines cannot be increased if you exercise this right and there is no “blacklisting” for doing this.
SETTLEMENT. After an informal conference you will receive a letter informing you of any changes made to your citations and fines. You then have a limited time to decide whether to accept the settlement, sign it, return it and pay any remaining fines or you can choose to move to the next phase of contending which is the formal hearing.
FORMAL HEARING. A formal hearing is rare. You appear before an administrative judge to make your case that you did not violate the regulations you are charged with or that OSHA broke laws during the process. Results are final.
Future articles will look at each step and give you more information so you can help the process go smoother. Remember, as a TMC client, call us as soon as possible as we stand ready to assist you in all phases of an inspection.