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Are You Ready for an OSHA Inspection?

Any employer who does business long enough in Kentucky will probably face an OSHA inspection.  It could be next week, next month, or next year.  It will happen regardless of whether the employer is in a low, medium, or high hazard industry. In Kentucky, most workplace safety is regulated by the Kentucky Labor Cabinet’s Occupational Safety and Health Program (KOSH).   As a state-plan OSHA state, Kentucky has more resources than federal OSHA to devote to inspections.  Are you prepared?  The consequences of noncompliance can be substantial.

State law – which is based upon the federal – covers virtually every employer, regardless of the number of employees. Only U.S. government employees and those who are covered by other federal safety agencies, such as MSHA for miners, are exempt.  Although KOSH has voluntarily relinquished jurisdiction over private sector maritime employment and some agricultural workplaces, the state still regulates temporary labor camps associated with egg, poultry, or red meat production, as well as camps involved with post-harvest processing.

Generally, KOSH compliance inspections fall into two, broad categories:  programmed and un-programmed.  Some work sites are selected randomly based upon objective criteria, such as industrial classification codes or emphasis programs.  Other inspections occur when someone alleges that hazardous working conditions exist in a particular workplace.  Employees routinely file complaints; also, other government agencies, medical professionals, or media sometimes make referrals.  If there is a fatality or catastrophe (where three or more employees are hospitalized) KOSH will automatically conduct an inspection.

There are several, important steps an employer should take to pass a KOSH inspection:

  • Engage a professional to conduct a workplace audit to ensure that you are complying with all applicable safety and health standards.
  • Develop and implement a comprehensive safety and health program.  Include employee input and establish a labor-management safety committee.
  • Regularly review and update your safety programs to reflect changes in your operation.
  • Strictly enforce safety rules and hold employees accountable.
  • Scrupulously maintain all injury and illness records; inspection and training records; and safety meeting minutes.  Know the reporting requirements!
  • Determine the company’s policy for handling inspections.  Will you allow immediate entry or require a search warrant?
  • Designate the person responsible for making decisions during the inspection.  Someone with authority should be available at all times.  A KOSH inspector will wait only one hour before considering the delay a refusal of entry.
  • Communicate the company’s policy to all employees and notify them of the person who will be making all the decisions.
  • Keep all required OSHA documents in a central location readily available during an inspection.
  • Document!  Document!  Document!  Written proof of safety and health program compliance is your best defense!

Expending some time and effort beforehand will help you avoid penalties and expensive abatement, not to mention increased insurance costs.

Kembra Sexton Taylor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kembra Sexton Taylor, partner located in the firm’s Frankfort office, practices in the areas of labor and employment, personnel, administrative, regulatory, appellate, and insurance defense law. She has extensive experience in representing clients regarding wage and hour, OSHA, state personnel, and other regulatory matters. She can be reached at taylor@mmlklaw.com or (502) 223-1200.

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