From my friends at SafetyBLR.com:
August 30, 2013
By Howard Mavity, partner, Fisher & Phillips, LLP
Many articles on handling OSHA inspections provide the same basic guidelines and little explanation of why an employer should take certain steps. Readers already know to take photos whenever the compliance officer takes shots and to take notes, but do you know why to take those photos and what to look for? What do you need to note in order to challenge citations when they are issued 6 months later?
Plan in advance
Every company site should have a number of managers who know the basic steps to take whenever any government investigator shows up. The most important step is for site managers to know whom to call to obtain guidance. No executive or in-house counsel will be pleased to learn of an investigation upon receipt of a citation. I have handled nearly 500 fatality and catastrophic cases and have learned that no matter how tough someone may be, people shut down when a coworker or subordinate is killed. At most, site management can cope with evacuating and protecting employees and dealing with first responders. The company needs a system in place so that with one call, the site manager activates corporate support, including legal and risk management guidance, assistance to employees and families, and press and media management. Set up this system and practice responses. Do not assume that you will never face a fatality or catastrophe. Natural disasters, vehicular accidents, and workplace violence can strike any employer.
Make sure that management takes an OSHA inspection seriously. Many employers are unprepared for the aggressive approach now common, and even seemingly minor citations can harm the business. In some industries, even a single serious citation can harm bidding opportunities. Most six-figure citations have involved repeat violations of routine items such as missing electric cabinet switch labels, damaged extension cords, partially blocked electric cabinets, or one employee who missed his annual training. Each violation can serve as the basis for a repeat violation of up to $70,000 per item at any company location in any state under federal OSHA jurisdiction for 5 years. No inspection is minor. And furthermore, OSHA’s new information technology system will allow it to better track your corporation’s performance, even when the company operates under many names.
Manage the inspection
The first step is to determine why OSHA is present. Many inspections are triggered by a complaint, and OSHA must tell you the terms. (Continue Reading at SafetyBLR.com)