According to media reports, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is launching what it calls a "no-notice" campaign in West Virginia this summer. OSHA indicated that this campaign is designed to reduce construction injuries and deaths.
The report stated that the "Construction Incident Prevention Initiative" will focus enforcement efforts on construction sites covered by OSHA's Charleston office. That area includes the entire state.
During its campaign, OSHA intends to send all of its compliance officers into the field to conduct immediate, unannounced inspections when ?unsafe working conditions are observed.?
It appears that OSHA has reported this initiative only to the media and intended the dissemination of this information only through this channel as no reference to a ?Construction Incident Prevention Initiative? could be found on its website. Further, no formal press release could be found on the agencies website, as is typical for news of this sort.
It is important for employers to understand the gravity of this warning, as just this month a lumber manufacturer was issued nearly $50,000 in fines by OSHA for alleged noise and safety hazards.
It appears that this new initiative is specifically targeting heavy highway jobs based upon the timing and the language used in the media report. However, employers not falling within this category must also stay alert because while OSHA may be increasing the amount of inspections in one specific category, random inspections are nothing new, as random OSHA inspections have always been a part of their arsenal.
Throughout the inspection and fine process, employers have rights. Remember to vigilantly monitor the inspection, the inspector, and take all appropriate notes and photographs to aid in the eventual defense of any inappropriately written citation.
We will continue to monitor this situation and provide updates as soon as new information is obtained.
In the meantime, here is a short video on avoiding OSHA citations.