What To Do When A Regulator Visits Your Construction Site

The regulators are coming! OSHA Compliance Officers as well as state and local regulators have been given the OK to resume site inspections with COVID-19 regulations lessening. These regulators are permitted to enter an employer’s premises and scrutinize the employer’s compliance with federal, state, and local regulations. What are the best steps to take should a regulator stop by your project site?

The following is a series of tips to help you better prepare for a workplace inspection.

Your initial contact with the Compliance Officer (“CO”) and the first moments of the inspection can be the most important.

✔  Stay calm and remain in control of the situation.

✔  Ask to see the CO’s credentials:

  • Ask the CO to sign a Visitor’s Log Sheet and ask for his/her business card.
  • Verify the credentials by calling the government authority if you are unfamiliar with the person.

✔  Ask the CO to wait in an appropriate location, preferably a location that is nearby and does not have a view of the worksite.

✔  Immediately inform your designated company representative that a CO is on site.

✔  Politely ask the CO to wait until your company representative has arrived before conducting the inspection.

✔  Rectify any readily “fixable” potential violations before the inspection begins, such as cluttered aisles or blocked exits.

✔  Regulations and case law suggest that a company has a reasonable amount of time (one to two hours) to arrange for its designated representatives to be present at the inspection.

✔  Do not be hurried into allowing an inspection without having those persons present.

✔  At the beginning of the inspection, you should request an “opening conference.”

✔  The purpose of the opening conference is to:

  • Find out what regulations the CO believes the company may have violated;
  • The scope of the proposed inspection of your worksite – try to focus the inspection on that scope;
  • Which records the CO wishes to inspect; and,
  • Discuss safeguarding the company’s trade secrets.

✔  Accompany the CO on the tour and attempt to limit the tour to the initial scope.

✔  Photograph or videotape the same items/areas as the CO.

✔  If possible, correct any apparent violations during the inspection.

✔  Take notes and return these notes to your company office to type up immediately after the inspection

✔  Request a “closing conference” to find out whether the CO believes any probably violations exist, but don’t debate or agree with the CO.

Taking proactive steps to ensure compliance now could yield huge dividends in the future. Regularly remind your crew of these steps to potentially lessen any fines, or even practice what a site inspection would be like with any crewmembers that haven’t experienced a surprise inspection. This is an exercise that may feel awkward but could potentially save your company thousands of dollars.