Preparing for and Managing
an OSHA Inspection
November 2, 2012
Eric J. Conn
Head of the OSHA Practice Group at
Epstein Becker & Green, P.C.
Why Employers Must Prepare Now
for an OSHA Inspection
OSHA Enforcement
Initiatives and Trends
Preparing in Advance
for an OSHA Inspection
Managing an On-Going
OSHA Inspection
Why Employers Must Prepare
Now for an OSHA Inspection
Why Prepare Now for an Inspection
• Significant increase in enforcement
• High costs of inspections, enforcement
and abatement
• Minimize exposure to citations
• Cast workplace in best light
• Improve safety
• Too late to prepare
once OSHA arrives
Increased Enforcement
• 100+ new CSHOs
• More citations
• Increased penalties
• More criminal cases
• Spike in significant/egregious cases
• New enforcement initiatives
• Added special emphasis programs
• Expanded scope beyond single workplace
Increased Enforcement
Field Operations Manual amended:
• Doubled minimum penalties
• Look back for Repeats
increased from 3 to
5 years
• Halved penalty
reduction for size
• Look back for
clean history reduction
increased from 3 to 5 years
• Maximum 30% penalty reduction at informal
settlement conferences
Follow-up Inspections/Repeat Violations
OSHA historically:
OSHA now:
• Treated workplaces
as individual,
• Treats workplaces in
a corporate family as
1 workplace
• Limited its review
of employers’ OSHA
records to 3 years
• Reactive Philosophy
(less likely to revisit
workplaces within a
few years)
• Looks back 5 years at
employers’ OSHA
enforcement records
• Proactive Philosophy
(hand selects past
violators as targets
for inspection)
Proactive Targeting Philosophy
• Increased use of National and
Local Emphasis Programs
Combustible Dust
Nursing and
Residential Care
Primary Metal
PSM Covered Chemical
Construction & General
Industry Falls
Proactive Targeting Philosophy
Total Inspection
- 4.9%
Increase in Repeat Violations
from 2006 to 2010
Classification of
Percent Change
Repeat & Willful
- 10.4%
Increase in Penalties from
2006 - 2011
Preparing for and Managing
an OSHA Inspection
Goals of the Inspection
Control Flow of Information
Minimize Business Disruption
Cast Workplace in Best Light
Identify Potential Problems Early
The OSHA Inspection
Sec. 8(a) of the OSH Act:
“OSHA may inspect at reasonable times any
workplace during regular working hours and at
other reasonable times within such reasonable
limits and in a reasonable manner.”
OSHA’s Inspection Rights
• Right to inspect workplaces (with
probable cause/violations in plain view)
• No Advance Notice
• Right to inspect records
• Right to collect physical evidence
• Right to conduct interviews
Employees’ Inspection Rights
Right to file a Complaint
Right not to be discriminated and
retaliated against
Participation Rights:
Opening Conference
Private interviews
Closing Conference
Informal Settlement Conference
Access to inspection records
Employer’s Inspection Rights
“Reasonable Inspection” at “Reasonable Times”
Demand a warrant
Hold Opening Conference
Receive a copy of the
formal Complaint
Accompany CSHO
during Walkaround
Participate in Management Interviews
Protect Trade Secret/CBI
Insist on a Closing Conference
Challenge Citations
Pre-Inspection Checklist
 Designate Inspection Team
- Spokesperson
- Escort
- Photographer
- Sampler
- Walkaround Representative
- Union/Contractor Liaison
- Document Coordinator
- Interview Representative
 Train Inspection Team on:
– Who to contact
– Inspection rights of OSHA,
employers, and employees
– OSHA Standards
– Controlling information flow
Pre-Inspection Checklist
Designate and audit walkaround routes
Provide inspection tools:
Camera/Video Camera
Contact List
Document Control Log
Sampling Tools
Copy of OSHA’s FOM
Document Labels
Choice of Rep. Forms
Cover Sheets
Determine warrant/consent philosophy
Warrant or Consent?
• 4th Am.: “The right
of the people to be secure in their
houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable
searches and seizures shall not be violated and no
warrant shall issue but upon probable cause….”
Benefits of Warrant:
Risks of Warrant:
Restraint on OSHA
– Passage of time
- Potential retaliation
- Lose control of inspection
Benefits of Consent:
Risks of Consent:
Appear cooperative
- Inspection scope may expand
– Easier to manage
– Minimize business disruption
Practitioner’s Tip:
Waive the warrant requirement and consent to an
inspection, but only after negotiating an acceptable scope.
Stages of OSHA Inspection
Opening Conference
Walkaround Inspection
Employee Interviews
Closing Conference
Citations Issued/Contested
Opening Conference
CSHO arrives and
displays credentials
Resolve warrant issue
Employee reps. may
CSHO explain purpose of inspection
CSHO discuss scope and duration
CSHO requests documents/information
Opening Conference
• Insist on an Opening Conference
• Designate in advance the location and who will
participate in Opening Conference
• Ask CHSO the purpose & scope (if not volunteered)
• Prepare list of individuals to notify
• Introduce management and inspection teams
• Explain your document production protocol
• Set up procedure for arranging employee interviews
• Arrange for daily close-out meetings
• Arrange to screen photo/film for trade secret or CBI
Document Production
• Insist on written requests for documents:
– Except: OSHA 300 Logs/300A Forms
• Voluntary vs. Subpoena
• Do not create new documents
• Do not leave documents in plain sight
• Do not volunteer information
– Except: Without more information, OSHA will
misunderstand a fact to your detriment
• Responsive, privileged or trade
secret/confidential business information
Document Production
Keep a copy of all documents produced
Maintain a Document Control Log
Walkaround Inspection
Management representative
should accompany CSHO
Employee representative
permitted to accompany
Act professionally yet
protect your rights
Take side-by-side
photos or videos
Fix hazards identified
by CSHO ASAP but do
not admit violations
Require CSHO to follow safety rules
Walkaround Inspection
Escort OSHA at all times
Ensure safety of CSHO
Gather information about focus of inspection
Control flow of information
Ask for advance notice prior to sampling
Take detailed notes
Hold brief meeting at end
of each day
Ask about concerns
Ask about interviews and
tasks for next visit
Consider proactive presentations
OSHA Inspection Interviews
Arrange through interview procedure
Pre-select office or conference room
Stop and Talk vs. Interview
5 Minute Rule
OSHA must be reasonable
Voluntary vs. Subpoena
Hourly Employee Interviews
• OSHA demands privacy
for hourly employee
– Union Representation
– Right to private
interview belongs to employee
– “Choice of Representative” Form
• Do not coerce or intimidate employees
• Do not discriminate against employees
Management Interviews
• Supervisor’s knowledge imputed to
• No impromptu management interviews
• Participate in all management interviews
– Right belongs to employer, not the witness
• Prepare all management witnesses
OSHA Inspection Interviews
Rights of
Closing Conference
Held at close of inspection
May occur weeks after on-site inspection
CSHO explains post-citation rights
CSHO communicates findings:
− Standards allegedly violated
− Bases for alleged violations
− Possible abatement and abatement dates
− Usually
will not share classification or penalty
Closing Conference
• Take detailed notes
• Correct errors and
• Report alleged violations
already corrected
• Request time to offer
supplemental information and documents
• Do not make abatement and/or abatement
date promises
• Ask CSHO about classifications and penalties
Eric J. Conn
[email protected]
(202) 861-5335
ERIC J. CONN is Head of the OSHA Practice Group at
Epstein Becker & Green, where his practice focuses on all
aspects of occupational safety & health law:
• Represents employers in inspections, investigations &
enforcement actions involving OSHA, CSB, MSHA, & EPA
• Responds to and manages investigations of catastrophic
industrial, construction, and manufacturing workplace
accidents, including explosions and chemical releases
• Handles all aspects of OSHA litigation, including
appeals of citations and negotiating settlements that
minimize the effect of enforcement on civil actions
• Conducts safety training & compliance counseling
Preparing for and Managing
an OSHA Inspection
November 2, 2012
Eric J. Conn
Head of the OSHA Practice Group at
Epstein Becker & Green, P.C.