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Occupational Safety and Health Administration Lawyers

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) mission is to assure the safety and health of workers by imposing standards. Inspecting workplaces is one of the tools OSHA uses to enforce those standards. These inspections can be tense because of the fines and penalties OSHA may impose.

Will My Business Be Inspected?

OSHA does not have the resources to inspect every workplace, so inspections are prioritized. A business will usually only be inspected if one of the following conditions exist:

  • Imminent danger - A danger exists and is expected to cause death or injury
  • Catastrophes and fatal accidents - Death or hospitalization of 3 or more workers
  • Complaints - Employee files complaint fearing danger or threat
  • Programmed high-hazard - Regularly scheduled for high risk workplaces
  • Follow-up inspections - Make sure previous issues are resolved

What Should I Expect if My Business is Inspected?

Most compliance officers arrive at workplaces during the employer's normal work hours without notice. Representatives of employers and employees may accompany the inspector as they examine the area of risk. The inspector may privately interview employees and ask the employer questions or ask to examine manuals and other incident related documentation.

What Rights Do I Have as a Business Owner?

As a business owner, you are guaranteed several rights including:

  • To know the reason for the inspection
  • May request a copy of the complaint
  • May deny entry to the officer; however OSHA may return with a warrant
  • May accompany the officer on their inspection and take notes
  • You can object to the expansion of the inspection to other work areas

What if My Business Is Cited?

If the OSHA inspector finds violations you will be charged with a specific violation and given a timeframe to correct a condition. Should you choose to do so, a lawyer can help you with a defense to contest the charges or negotiate to have the citation amended.

What if My Business Is Penalized?

Penalties range from $5,000 to $70,000. Penalties may be reduced based upon many factors including your cooperation in fixing the problem and the size of your business.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Help Me with My OSHA Problem?

OSHA sanctions can be very severe and difficult to fight. If you are facing an investigation an experienced employment attorney can help you meet OSHA requirements. If you were recently inspected consult with an employment lawyer as the inspection is the beginning of a multi-step process and you may have some defenses.

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 10-14-2014 03:31 PM PDT

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