EATWELL CONSULTING, LLC
P.O. Box 1789
Camarillo, CA 93011
08-04-16 Cal/OSHA Inspections
If you operate in the agricultural, construction or manufacturing industry, you’re likely familiar with the California Occupational Safety & Health Administration, or Cal/OSHA. Here are some basic tips when communicating with OSHA before and during an inspection.
- When a Cal/OSHA Inspector arrives at your office, farm field, factory or construction site, ask for their credentials and verify they are who they say they are. Get their business card and ask them the reason for the visit – it could be as a result of a high experience modification factor (over 125%), an accident, a complaint filed by an employee or some other person, a “computerized” visit where your company came up in a random search, or they could have been driving by and thought they would stop. If something seems not quite right, call the OSHA regional office and verify their credentials as there are scammers who pose as inspectors and take cash to go away.
- Wait until the company safety officer or authorized person arrives before authorizing the inspection to begin. Usually there will be a pre-inspection conference where the Inspector may have a lot of questions regarding safety and business practices, and you want to have a properly trained employee there to answer these questions.
- Stay with the Inspector while the inspection is in progress – remember, the Inspector has the right to speak to any employee. Keep copies of any documentation provided to Cal/OSHA during and after the inspection, and try to record the things they are looking at, reviewing or recording. Inspections may result in further questions and investigations, and you want to have comprehensive documents to refer to.
- You may receive a Document Request letter asking for specific things such as a copy of your Illness and Injury Prevention Program, Hazard Communication Program, training documentation for specific individuals, etc. You will have until the posted date to furnish these items.
- You may then receive a letter from Cal/OSHA outlining what they found and asking you to tell them why you should not receive a citation (usually a serious citation which starts at an $18,000 fine).
- If you’re issued citations you agree with, pay them! Remember to post the citation(s) for three working days in the designated place and to answer the abatement letter. If you disagree, you have 15 days to appeal the citation(s). You will still have to post the citation(s) and answer the abatement letter.
- The next step is an “informal conference” with the District Manager who will attempt to resolve the citation(s). Present your side of the story, give evidence, bring records, bring witnesses and show good faith efforts for your corrective actions.
If this meeting does not result in resolution, the next step will be a scheduled telephone conference call with an administrative law judge, the District Manager and your designee. The judge will attempt to resolve the citation. If this does not work, the next step is a hearing before a judge. Usually matters are settled (fines reduced, etc.) before this point in the process.
It should be remembered that the bulletins are not designed to render legal advice or legal opinion. Such advice may only be given by a licensed, practicing attorney, and only when related to actual situations
Office (805) 987-4404 * Cellular (805) 432-8444 * FAX 987-3874 * E-Mail B08-04-16.DOC
So what can you do to be ready?
- Have all required safety programs in place; have documented job safety training and tailgate meetings; have regular documented walk-thru safety inspections, and have all the required posters in place.
- Train your office employees, supervisors and foremen in what to do and who to contact if Cal/OSHA shows up, especially the person at the front desk, or the first point of contact for your business.
- You may want to contact Cal/OSHA Consultative Services to find out which safety standards apply to your business, and implement policies specific to those standards. You could request a fine-free inspection by the Consultative Services to ensure compliance in every area.