If you get the proverbial “knock on the door” by an OSHA inspector, known as a compliance safety and health officer (CSHO), what do you do?
If you consent, what should you expect to happen next? And if you refuse to consent, then what? In order to answer these questions in the face of an OSHA inspection in an informed, prudent manner, it is critical to have an understanding of the limits of OSHA’s inspection authority and a clear understanding of the process.
Similar to the protections that we have all come to expect and enjoy in our own homes and individually, employers are entitled to Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures of their workplaces. As a result, prior to conducting an inspection, the CSHO generally needs one of two things: a warrant or your consent to the inspection.
In most cases, the CSHO will arrive without a warrant. Since the CSHO is dependent on your consent for the inspection to proceed, this provides an opportunity (prior to consenting) to negotiate a reasonable scope and reasonable conditions for the inspection. If you succeed in this regard, it would usually be advisable to consent. Indeed, if you don’t consent, you risk the loss of any potential “good will” that could have otherwise been created during the process and also lose control over the scope of the inspection.
More on an OSHA inspection at IndustryWeek.
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