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OSHA inspection and citation process; mitigation & representation
Posted on:Saturday, April 27, 2013

Bob Pope CHST.

Construction companies without a safety professional on staff put themselves at-risk with an OSHA inspection and citation process. OSHA Compliance Safety and Health Officers (CSHO’s) are required to follow established rules & requirements within the OSHA Field Operations Manual (FOM). This manual covers 16 chapters with 289 pages. Without a safety professional on staff who is well versed with OSHA’s FOM, “someone” within the company would have to be responsible to know this manual; its rules & requirements. Don’t think for one second that OSHA will have any sympathy for a lack of adherence to the OSHA Standards or knowledge in the FOM; nor will they be lenient or necessarily give your company a "break".

Construction companies in MA, CT, RI, NY, NYC and NJ can have experienced representation and peace of mind during an OSHA Inspection & Citation process with United Alliance Services Corp. The best time for UASC to intercede in the process is during the inspection itself. OSHA will delay an inspection for a reasonable time, if requested, for management representation to get there. If you go it alone we recommend that your site representative keep note of everything the CSHO writes down and says. Take photos of everything the CSHO takes a photo of. The CSHO does not issue citations; he/she merely collects the information.

Correct everything the CSHO identifies immediately, whether it is a violation or not, as it demonstrates what OSHA calls "good faith effort". Let the CSHO see you actually doing the corrections as the inspection proceeds. Respectfully keep the CSHO moving on a "walkthrough". Don't be afraid to discuss any difference in your interpretation of any OSHA standard in a respectful manner. The idea here is, if you can put any doubt in their mind, you may keep the finding from being recorded and from ever getting to citation process. There should be an opening conference and, more importantly for you, a closing conference. At the closing conference you will get a clearer idea of which citations to expect and you can see it as a second opportunity to discuss any difference in your interpretation of any OSHA standard with the CSHO. Through this closing conference dialog with the CSHO your goal is getting knowledge from the CSHO about potential citations and it is your last opportunity to demonstrate a “good faith effort” to the CSHO, that perhaps the CSHO will not include the finding in his/her report to the area director.

Within 6 months you can expect to receive a citation from the Area OSHA Office. If you do not get a Citation in 6 months check the OSHA website Inspection Data pages to see if the inspection has been posted and closed without citation. If there is no citation, you typically get no notification. If there is a citation, UASC can consult with you on how to best present your company at an informal conference. You only have 15 days in which to request an informal conference. At the informal conference OSHA gives employers the opportunity to show cause to mitigate the citation. United Alliance Services can and will represent you at an informal conference.

Too often companies take the initial offer from the Area Director to reduce the penalty. This penalty reduction is a typical offer to most any company that comes to an informal conference. Settling on the penalty reduction alone leaves your company exposed to the citation itself, which is retained for 3 years. In the event that you "repeat" that violation in those 3 years the penalty can increase 10 fold and the citation is upgraded. Now you’re teetering on a Willful Violation for the remainder of those 3 years! The real challenge at an informal conference is not to get a typical penalty reduction, but to get a citation reclassification or deletion with maximum penalty reductions.

It is best to get in front of any citation at the earliest stages. Consult UASC. Our experienced staff has been through dozens of OSHA inspections and informal conferences and stays up-to-date with ALL OSHA directives and initiatives. Our experienced staff can be reached at 877-399-1698 or via email at safetysolutions@unitedallianceservices.com

You can reach me directly at:
860-912-7622 or bpope@unitedallianceservices.com
You can also see the website at www.acsafety.org


 
 
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