OSHA Visits Your Jobsite – Now What?

Sat, Feb 10, 2024 at 11:35AM

Kevin Lindley, Safety Consultant, FRSA Self Insurer’s Fund

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has just arrived at one of your jobsites. Visits from OSHA are rarely a “congratulations for doing a great job.” Instead, they are a reality check for your safety culture and on what’s being put into practice in the field. You may think: Why are they here? What did my guys do? How much is this going to cost? Hopefully, OSHA isn’t at your site right now, so you have the time to prepare for when the unexpected visit does occur.

OSHA expects a company to provide their employees with a safe workplace, free from serious recognized hazards and compliant with standards, rules and regulations issued under the OSH Act. They visit project sites when they are either notified or drive by and make an observation that a safe workplace is not provided and safety standards, rules and regulations are not being followed. Once an OSHA Field Safety Compliance Officer has arrived onsite, he will present his credentials (badge), introduce himself or herself and explain the reason for the visit. This is known as the “opening conference.” A site leader or foreman should take a look around and make safety observations immediately. He or she should then attempt to call their supervisor, safety manager or owner of the company.

Should the Compliance Officer take any photographs, your employee or management onsite should take the same photo, at the same angle immediately following. OSHA does not share their photographs following an investigation. The officer may wish to speak to individual employees on the jobsite about their knowledge and training to get a better idea about the safety culture of the company. Employees may request a supervisor to be present should they wish to not be alone – that is their personal right and the employee must voice his request to the officer prior to or during the interview. Once the OSHA Compliance Officer has obtained all the information they need, they will conduct a “closing conference” with available site management. They will explain their initial findings, explain your rights concerning the issues presented and answer any questions you may have at that time. If a business card has not been provided, one should be received at this time from the Compliance Officer.

In the coming weeks, a letter from OSHA will arrive requesting certain documents from a company. OSHA will request a copy of the company safety program related to the safety violation(s) observed in the field, copies of all safety meetings and trainings, site inspections conducted for the past two to three months, disciplinary action policy and records, business license, business I.D. number, number of employees, a copy of the contract or agreement for the project they visited and copies of the company OSHA 300 and OSHA 300A logs for the past three years.

Company Safety Program

Every construction company should have a company safety program and if you are a member of the FRSA Self Insurers Fund, one is provided to you. The program should include safety policies and procedures for all aspects of company activities: office, warehouse, vehicle and travel, site and personnel safety. It should also include a Hazard Communication Policy as well as a Disciplinary Policy. When creating or editing your program, make it practical and easy to understand. The program is established for the worker to read and follow, not just management.

Safety Meetings and Training

“If training isn’t documented, it didn’t happen.” You need documented proof that you have trained employees in all expectations and requirements for their job duties. Sign-in rosters taken at meetings should have a signature line as well as a line for employees to clearly print their name beside the signature. All training, instruction or re-training, shall require a form to be signed, either an individual form or a roster of those in attendance. Keep records for a minimum of five years. If individual signature forms are used, keep copies in not only in a personnel file but also in a common folder for ease of location at a later date.

Site Inspections

Field verification that safety policies are being followed is crucial. Photographs may serve as verification of site inspections but are not preferred as additional issues may be illustrated in photographs. There are excellent phone apps that are specifically designed as a checklist that can be completed in the field at the time of the visit for safety compliance and may be tailored to the companies needs. A simple 10-item checklist on a piece of paper is acceptable as well and should include:

  1. Vehicle Safety
  2. Site Safety
  3. Ladder Safety
  4. Roof Housekeeping
  5. Fall Protection
  6. Personal Protective Equipment
  7. Electrical Safety
  8. Fire Safety
  9. Hazard Communication Safety
  10. Sanitation and Hydration

Disciplinary Action Policy

A clear, easy to follow and practical disciplinary action plan must be written. You should make the rules strong enough to ensure they are followed, but easy enough for the responsible employee to act accordingly when needed. For example, verbal reprimand is a form of disciplinary action. It still must be documented; however formal writing and employee signature are not required. Written reprimand is a document stating the date, issue observed, employee’s name and corrective action taken and signed by the employee. Safety disciplinary action should be phased with increasing consequences for repeat occurrences and have the ability to skip phases dependent upon the circumstances or violation observed. A fall protection violation should not have the same action as not wearing a pair of gloves.

Disciplinary Action Records

Corrective action taken on field observations is required. Perfection is something we all strive for; however, safety perfection is not always a reality. There are always issues in the field – it’s how we handle them that sets us apart from others. OSHA realizes this. The field officer and the area director know that the observation in the field by the Compliance Officer is not the first safety offense the company has ever committed; they want to see that the company is aware of it’s shortcomings and is making a valid effort to make corrections without government action.

Is the Company Legal?

Business license, business I.D. number and contract or agreement for the project are required. Simply put, is the company legal? Is it following all requirements and acting accordingly? Is the contractor working on the project site is a subcontractor? Information will be required by the primary contractor as well and the primary contractor who is contracted for the job may also be liable for citations. Ensure that all subcontractors have a current license, workers’ compensation, are properly registered and all agreements are in writing with clear expectations.

Number of Employees

How big is the company who was present on the project? OSHA does not target large corporations; they do understand that larger companies have more exposure. OSHA also wants to ensure the company is acting legally, reporting all their employees for proper wages and tax purposes.

OSHA 300 and 300A Logs

Copies of the company OSHA 300 and 300A Logs for the past three years should be available. Companies with 10 or more employees are required to keep a record of serious work-related injuries and illnesses on these forms. Those companies with a peak employment of 20 or more employees are also required to submit their 300A Log to OSHA on an annual basis using the online Injury Tracking Application (ITA). Just a reminder: the 2023 OSHA Form 300A is due on or prior to March 2, 2024. Also, all employers, regardless of the number of employees, must report any employee fatality directly to OSHA within eight hours and any amputation, loss of eye or hospitalization of an employee within 24 hours. This report may be made over the phone or online. The OSHA Form 300 is required to be posted in a visible location at the place of business from February 1 through April 30 each year.

Many contractors would love to make a claim that an employee is acting on his own and not following company policies and therefore the company should not be cited for the individual’s actions. However, if the company is unable to display to OSHA that the company:

  • has policies,
  • trains all individuals on the company’s policies,
  • monitors their policies,
  • takes action when policies are not followed and
  • holds employees accountable for their inappropriate behavior, then the “rogue employee acting of his own” defense cannot be considered a legitimate explanation for the safety culture within the company.


Access to workers’ comp coverage is available to all FRSA members. To find out if you qualify for FRSA-SIF workers’ comp insurance, please contact Alexis at 800-767-3772, ext. 206 or email alexis@frsasif.com. To learn more about the FRSA Self Insurers Fund, please visit www.frsasif.com.

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