OSHA and Workplace Accident Investigations: What Every HR Professional Needs to Know
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Learn how to effectively and properly conduct a workplace investigation while keeping the company protected.A workplace is changed in an instant when an accident occurs, especially accidents involving fatalities or catastrophic injuries. A typical day quickly transforms into one that can devastate other employees, cause chaos in your operations, and throw the company immediately into a legal morass. Preparedness is critical in addressing workplace accidents efficiently and effectively. Accidents and all other circumstances that prompt OSHA investigations must be planned for ahead of time. This planning ensures that the company and its key actors likely to be involved in an accident response will know what to do immediately in dealing with the unexpected. OSHA investigations following accidents can give rise to very serious legal consequences. Civil penalties can be extremely costly. Accidents can give rise to civil liability, citations, claims, or charges by OSHA, the injured employee(s) and/or victim(s), other employees, or third parties. Even criminal prosecutions are a possibility in extreme circumstances. No OSHA investigation is routine, and it is impossible to write a script for how every investigation will unfold. However, there are key considerations and common themes that this topic will cover to ensure that you and your company are as prepared as possible for an OSHA investigation. This presentation provides a review of the information and procedures that can help a company through an OSHA investigation. Many of these concepts are transferable to responses to other types of incidents or any inquiry into how well the company has met the requirements of law. This topic is a starting point for those who are new to managing OSHA compliance, and a refresher for those who have experience with OSHA enforcement activities.
AuthorsJaslyn W. Johnson, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C. Phillip B. Russell, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.
What to Do When OSHA Is at Your Door
• What Is OSHA?
• What Is at Stake?
• Preparing for Investigations
• Managing Investigations
• Recognizing Investigations for What They Really Are: Discovery
Elements of OSHA Investigations
• The Opening Conference
• The Walkaround
• Document Requests and Production
• Employee Interviews
• Management Interviews
• Recognizing Signs That It Is Not Going Well
• The Closing Conference
Additional Considerations for Fatality or Catastrophe OSHA Investigations
• Unique Challenges of Fatality/Catastrophe Investigations
• Internal Accident Reports
• Dealing With Co-Workers, Family, News Media, and Law Enforcement
• Potential Criminal Violations
• Expert Analyses and Reports
• Managing Expectations and Outcomes