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OSHA inspections can make even the most prepared site supervisor nervous. It isn’t without good reason, either, considering the largest penalties for willful violations can top $136,000 per violation. What measures can be taken to ensure that the site is OSHA compliant at all times? When are the most inspection heavy periods on construction sites? 

By knowing OSHA penalty prevention basics, construction executives can ensure that their construction projects don’t incur costly violations that can cause huge fines, and possible site shutdown. Be certain that the safety coordinator or site superintendent is fully abreast of the relevant OSHA codes, and the ensuing penalties for non-compliance. 

Know Violation Types

In terms of violation types, serious, willful and repeated violations are the types that can, and often do, cost thousands of dollars. In addition, when willful violations are found, the administration can actually bring criminal charges against the company that is found to be in violation. The OSHA violation type is of great importance, as these definitions will plainly lay out:

  • Serious. OSHA defines a serious violation as a genuine health hazard or a risk of injury, illness or death, OSHA counts it as a serious violation. If the employer should have known about a hazard but did not remedy it, it also falls into this type of violation. 
  • Willful. This is the most serious type of OSHA violation. It is reserved for situations when employers know they are placing their workers in danger or that they are violating safety standards. It can often result in the administration pursuing criminal charges against the company. 
  • Repeat. OSHA defines a repeated violation as one that occurs within three years of OSHA citing the business for the same or a similar issue. It shows that the company has done nothing to fix the problems of the past, and OSHA treats this very seriously. 

Have An Inspection Plan In Place

OSHA will handle most low priority inspections through a phone interview with the safety coordinator. That doesn’t ensure that low-level OSHA violations cannot trigger an on-site inspection to take place. If another government agency has reported the company, or if a serious injury has taken place on site, it is nearly a guarantee that the OSHA inspector come to the job site. It is important to have an inspection plan in place before the inspector shows up. 

In most circumstances, OSHA inspectors will show up to the site unannounced, and although the company has the right at the time to deny them entry, it wouldn’t be wise to do so. At the onset of the inspection, have an opening conference, during which the scope of the inspection will be discussed. The inspectors will most likely request safety and equipment maintenance records, either paper, or via a CMMS, and they will routinely ask questions of the safety coordinator as they walk through the site. Answer the questions honestly, but keep answers brief and to the point. There will be a closing conference, and if violations have been found, they will mail a copy of the citation, which will include information on how to remedy the violation. 

What Type of Inspection Is Occurring?

Imminent Danger Inspections is where a compliance officer thinks that there may be an immediate risk of serious physical harm or fatality. They will request the employer remedy the hazard immediately without undergoing the usual processes.

Investigative Inspections are usually performed soon after a major accident in which three or more employees suffer serious injury or fatality.

Employee Complaint Inspections occur when either current or former employees file a complaint containing specific information about alleged violations on site. If OSHA agrees it is a violation, a compliance office inspects.

Follow-Up Inspections are when OSHA returns to a site that received a citation to check if the problem is abated. 

In Case of Violation

Contractors are required to display the OSHA violation in a conspicuous fashion at the job site for three working days or until the violation is remedied and closed, whichever is longest. The company has the option to either remedy the violation within the time frame allotted by OSHA, or request a conference with OSHA within 15 working days of receiving the violation notice. 

If the company opts not to abate the violation, and does not comply within the allotted time frame, OSHA can issue a fine of $13,000 per day until the company is in compliance. If the company is found in violation of OSHA codes, such as not reporting employee injuries within 24 hours, it may also face a monetary penalty of $13,000 or more per day until the violation has been satisfactorily completed. 


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