OSHA Inspections and Accident Investigations

Key Takeaway:

OSHA inspections and accident investigations are carried out as mandated by the OSHA Act. These inspections and accident investigations are conducted to enquire if there are violations in the workplace in implementing OSHA standards.

OSHA, as authorized by the OSHA Act, conducts OSHA inspections and accident investigations. OSHA inspections and accident investigations are carried out in workplaces to ascertain if the OSHA standards aimed at ensuring safe workplaces are being adhered to by employers. These are aimed at buttressing what is called the "General Duty Clause", which requires employers to provide "a safe and healthful" workplace.

OSHA appoints officers to conduct OSHA inspections and accident investigations. These officers are usually professionals who are trained in safety and health standards and specialize in the fields of industrial safety and hygiene.

States enforcing their own safety standards are not required to comply with OSHA inspections and accident investigations, but they should implement inspections and accident investigations with laws that are at least as effective as federal enactments in this regard.

Features of OSHA inspections and accident investigations

The outstanding feature of OSHA inspections and accident investigations is that these can happen without OSHA having to give advance notice, which is quite unlike most other investigations, such as FDA investigations. In certain conditions, though, OSHA might give advance notice, even during which the notice given is less than 24 hours from an OSHA inspection and accident investigation:

  • When there is a looming danger needing emergency attention
  • In situations where OSHA has to give notice for ensuring the presence of the employer, a representative from among employees or any other such designated personnel
  • When the OSHA Area Director determines that giving advance notice leads to a more productive or effective OSHA inspection and accident investigation
  • Where the employer informs OSHA of a disaster or fatality
  • When a genuine reason warrants the delay of more than five working days of OSHA inspections and accident investigations
  • When OSHA requires an inspection to take place after regular business hours or if it decides that an inspection or accident investigation requires special preparation.

The Inspection Details Page

OSHA inspections and accident investigations have to produce what is called the Inspection Details page. This page has all the details pertaining to the inspection. It usually consists of the following:

  • Investigation Report ID, which gives the case a unique identifier
  • Open Date, the date of the accident
  • The accident site's address
  • A four-digit Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) Code
  • Inspection type, which mentions what type of inspection, was performed
  • Scope of the investigation
  • Type of establishment ownership
  • Indication of whether the inspection was related to safety or to health
  • The point/s of emphasis of the investigation
  • Advance notice, if given
  • Date of close of the investigation
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