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Cal-Osha Is Knocking Should I Let Them In

Updated on October 20, 2015

Safety Training

Some of you may remember that old country song entitled "Somebody's Knocking, Should I let them in."

Over the years I have heard that question a lot when either Cal-Osha or Osha comes knocking on your door to do an inspection.

While it is true that you do not have to let them in, it is in your best interest to let them do their inspection. You will find that if you don't let them in they will be back and they will be back with an attitude.

However, with that being said there are some things you need to be aware of before you just let them have cart blanche walking through your jobsite.

  1. If this is a work related injury they can only go and inspect the site of the accident.
  2. You do have the right to ask them why they are there.
  3. The reason they are there will determine how far they can go into your facility.
  4. You have the right to ask them for a badge or documentation of who they are.
  5. If it is a general or a random inspection they can pretty much go anywhere.
  6. You should be aware of what they will be asking from you as far as your company's Safety Practices go.

Why would Cal-Osha or Osha come knocking on my door in the first place?

  1. Someone may have filed a complaint or turned you in. This could either be an employee or anyone for that matter.
  2. If there is a serious accident that occurs both Cal-Osha and Osha will be there.
  3. Geographical Sweeps. From time to time Cal-Osha or Osha will do sweeps of certain towns or areas.
  4. If you Ex Mod rate is above 125 you should be expecting an investigation.

With all of that being said let's explore some of the things that a Cal-Osha Enforcement Officer will be looking for. A Federal Osha enforcement officer will be looking for pretty much the same documentation.

Below will be a list of some of the things that either Cal-Osha or Osha will be looking for when they come knocking on your door.

  • Your Company's Safety Program otherwise known as a Illness and Injury Prevention Program.
  • Should your employees work in conditions of 85 degrees or more they will ask to see your Heat Illness Prevention Program.
  • A minimum of one year's worth of Safety Training Topics
  • Three years of the Cal-Osha Form 300. This form is to be posted from February-April each year.
  • Documentation of your Random Inspections
  • Documentation of Employee's Report of Unsafe or Hazardous Conditions In The Workplace
  • Documentation that you have abated or fixed all of the Hazardous Conditions in the workplace.
  • They will be checking in addition to the above to see if you are doing all of your Record Keeping Requirements

Some employers who have less than ten employees will inform the the enforcement officer that they are not required to keep records of all of the above because they have less than ten employees.

I hate to tell you this but that will not work. The enforcement officer will simply point you to the fact that every employer with one or more employees must be doing all of the above. Now while it is true you do not have to document in writing all of the above, the fact is you still have to do it.

Now since you have chosen not to document this in writing, which employee would you like me to interview so that I can get verification for my boss that you are compliant.

Since I live in California and deal with employers in California I can speak very well concerning what enforcement officers are doing here. While there really is not that many differences between Osha and Cal-Osha I am reasonably confident that Osha will not vary that much.

Here is something that every employer needs to be aware of especially here in California. Cal-Osha has two mindsets towards employers.

  1. The first is that employers are not able to write an effective safety program
  2. If somehow they could write one they would not have the means to enforce all aspects of the safety program properly.

Because of these two reasons enforcement officers would like to see every business have a Safety Consultant Working on their behalf.

It is sad for me to have to say this, but my experience has been that Enforcement Officers really do open up once they find out that there is a Safety Consultant involved. From what I can tell, it seems that they are more confident that abatements will really get done,

They also feel that when an employer has a consultant working with them, that the consultant will help to hold the employer accountable. Being held accountable implies that once Cal-Osha or Osha have left and the issue is resolved the company will continue with the pursuit of safety in the workplace, as long as there is a Safety Consultant working with the company.

My experience tells me that they are right on almost all of the above counts. So my advice to employers is to get someone you can count on to help you get and stay in compliance. If you don't know of anyone, ask some of your business associates who they are using and how they are working out for them.


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