s a contractor in the construction industry, OSHA inspections are a necessary evil. Imagine that an OSHA inspector just completed an inspection of your worksite. What steps should you take now? Allow our construction law team at Woodall Batchelor PLLC to walk you through the necessary steps.
OSHA Inspections: How to handle these?
First and foremost, you should always try to comply with posting regulations. Post a copy of the citation at or near the site of the violation for 3 working days. Or, until the violation is corrected—whichever is longer. Saturdays, Sundays and state holidays do not constitute working days. Citations must be posted even in the event they are contested.
If you chose to contest the citation, you must do so within 15 working days. The notice of contest must be in writing. More importantly, an informal conference or request for an informal conference will not extend this time period. In the event you choose not to contest any citation, you must pay any applicable penalties within this 15-day period and ensure that you comply with any abatement requirements.
Keep in mind that contesting a citation and proceeding all the way through litigation may involve significant time and resources. Consider the time and resources required to contest a citation, the severity of any citation, the proposed penalties, the burden of any necessary abatement, the possibility for repeat or willful violations, and any impact such a violation might have on the employer’s ability to obtain work. Legal counsel can be helpful when evaluating the pros and cons of contesting a citation.
Be aware of what abatement requirements apply, particularly in a state-plan state that may have more stringent abatement requirements—feel free to reach out directly to our construction attorneys if you have additional questions about this. Failure to comply with any abatement requirements can result in citations for repeat or willful violations or additional penalties for failure to abate.
Additionally, it’s important to note that under no circumstances should an employer wrongfully retaliate against any employees who either filed a complaint or who were interviewed by the inspector. Terminating, threatening, harassing, or otherwise taking adverse action against employee complainants or interviewees can result in additional lawsuits and inspections and hefty penalties. However, this does not mean that an employer should abandon its disciplinary policy. On the contrary, an employer must ensure that it effectively, consistently and promptly enforces its safety policies, and this includes disciplinary policies. Those employees who violated applicable safety standards should be promptly, consistently and appropriately disciplined. The employer should document any and all disciplinary action.
Learn more about OSHA inspections and their effects on your construction company
Most contractors have at least considered (maybe with dread) what may happen if an OSHA inspector arrives at their jobsite. But many contractors fail to do all they can to prepare for an inspection before the inspector arrives. Taking action now to ensure a safe work environment can reduce or eliminate citations. It can also minimize disruption and ensure a favorable outcome for employers in the event of an inspection. Effective legal counsel can help ensure compliance with applicable law and assist during a citation contest. To find out more, don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our construction law attorneys in The Woodlands at Woodall Batchelor PLLC.