Owners often express to us that one of the trickiest situations they navigate is when OSHA arrives on the property. Generally, Cal/OSHA units inspect businesses with a specified reason in mind. However, the High Hazard division, which has the authority to randomly visit work locations and conduct a complete inspection, is an exception to the rule. As discussed in a previous blog post released in early April, the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the desire for OSHA to imminently inspect sites that could run the risk of exposure and that could be difficult to manage for owners who are unsure of how to proceed. So, what should an owner do if Cal/OSHA arrives on their property?
The most important thing to keep in mind here is knowledge of their opening process. OSHA officers will make contact with owners to show their credentials (including a State of California photo ID and Cal/OSHA business card) and properly identify themselves. It’s crucial for owners to know that they are legally allowed to ask OSHA officers to delay their inspection for a “reasonable time” (which is generally up to one hour) to provide a dedicated representative enough time to arrive, as per the OSH Act of 1970. That is where HR Mobile Services, Inc. comes in to facilitate the site visit for our clients.
Once the time has expired, an OSHA officer will then move into the inspection itself. This process includes a program review, walk-around hazard identification, and then an interview process. The program review is extensive and requires the presence of an Injury & Illness Prevention Program, Heat Illness Prevention Program, five years of OSHA 300 logs, and all other relevant supporting documentation for the business. All requested documentation must be provided to the OSHA officer within 4 hours, so it’s important to review everything to ensure that it is present and up to date. During the hazard identification, OSHA officers will go into a walkthrough of the site to ensure that it is up to code. In the case of partial inspections completed by the majority of Cal/OSHA, they will often go to where the incident was reported and discuss information related to that area, which can be an owner’s best clue on why their property is being investigated. The interview process involves 2-3 employees and a supervisor from the site. While HR Mobile can be present during the supervisor interview, as with all other procedures in this section of the inspection, we cannot be in the room when OSHA is interviewing employees.
After the site visit is completed, there will be an exit interview for the process. Traditionally, Cal/OSHA will perform a document request for a copy of documentation related to the case. It could be as broad as the IIPP or HIPP or could be as narrow as the training records of the employees requested. Documents will need to be provided to them within a deadline, usually within five days, which HR Mobile’s OSHA specialists then meet for our clients to ensure that both the owner and OSHA are satisfied. The OSHA officer will then have six months to decide if any citations will be issued to the business. Any citation will always be issued with a reasonable time for an abatement of issues cited.
Cal/OSHA can be unpredictable, and it may be challenging to process how to progress when they show up at your door. Thankfully, all assistance described in this article is provided to our customers. Contact us for OSHA advice today at 877-734-7677.