825 OSHA Inspections


Reference Note:

For additional material concerning OSHA inspections refer to:

825.1 Purpose

The purpose of section 825 is to provide general guidance when compliance safety and health officers (CSHOs) or compliance safety and health officer industrial hygienists (CSHO-IHs) from OSHA conduct announced or unannounced inspections or investigations of Postal Service facilities. All such inspectors are referred to as CSHOs in 825.

825.2 Scope

These procedures apply to all facilities in which Postal Service employees work. In Postal Service–owned or –leased facilities, it is the responsibility of the Postal Service to ensure compliance with OSHA requirements. In Postal Service, owned or leased facilities, it is the responsibility of the Postal Service to ensure compliance with OSHA requirements.

825.3 Authority

It is Postal Service policy to maintain safe and healthful working conditions and to cooperate fully with OSHA inspectors. As an employer subject to private sector enforcement, it is Postal Service policy to ensure that inspections are conducted in a reasonable manner.

825.4 Procedures

825.41 Arrival of Inspectors and Verification of Credentials

OSHA may conduct its inspections without prior notice. CSHOs generally conduct inspections during normal working hours but may arrive on any tour. On arrival at a Postal Service facility, the CSHO should ask to meet with the ranking Postal Service official. The senior Postal Service official must meet promptly with the CSHO.

The senior Postal Service official, or designee, must review all CSHOs’ credentials and may request verification from the OSHA area office.

Once the CSHO has presented appropriate credentials, the senior Postal Service official must immediately notify, by telephone or in person, the district manager and area Human Resources manager (or their designees) of OSHA’s presence and the scope of the inspection and request that a safety professional come to the facility immediately for the inspection.

825.42 Consent to Entry and Cooperation

The CSHO must be informed that he or she will be permitted to enter any Postal Service facility for inspection or investigation purposes without delay once a safety representative reaches the site or area, or once the area Human Resources manager or designee agrees that the inspection may proceed without such attendance.

The CSHO should be informed that a request for a representative has been made, that the Postal Service request is not intended to delay or interfere with the inspection, but to ensure that the Postal Service participates in a professional manner, and that the presence of the representative will expedite completion of the inspection. Postal Service officials must cooperate fully with OSHA CSHOs.

During an inspection, if the Postal Service official determines that the CSHO believes that a violation exists because the CSHO does not have complete information about a particular condition, the Postal Service official (subject to advice from the safety professional) should attempt to make the CSHO aware of all relevant additional information.

825.43 Opening Conference
825.431 Initiation

The CSHO holds an opening conference to inform the Postal Service of the purpose, scope, and conduct of the inspection. If the CSHO does not offer to conduct the conference, one should be requested.

825.432 Attendance

The opening conference must be attended by a safety professional unless the district Human Resources manager or designee says to proceed. The senior Postal Service official attends the opening conference and may invite other Postal Service officials from the facility, as appropriate. Employee representatives also should attend the opening conference; union representatives from the local safety and health committee should participate in accordance and 824.3 and 825.3.

825.433 Provision of Materials

The CSHO may provide copies of laws, standards, regulations, and promotional materials. The CSHO is required to furnish to the installation head any copy of an employee’s report(s) of unsafe or unhealthful conditions that generated the inspection. If a complainant has asked to remain anonymous, OSHA is bound by regulations to respect that request. In such instances, the CSHO must provide a list of the unsafe conditions alleged.

825.434 Outline of Scope

The CSHO can be expected to outline the proposed general scope of the inspection, including employee interviews, physical inspection of the workplace, records review, and the taking of photographs or samples.

825.435 Plan of Route Sequence

The CSHO should be questioned during the opening conference so that the walk–around inspection can be planned as to route sequence, notifications to production supervisors, and technical support. Planning of a route sequence should be considered a guideline only, as the CSHO may investigate any other apparent hazards observed in plain view while en route to a particular area.

825.44 Records Review
825.441 Safety Records

It is the policy of the Postal Service to require that the CSHO present all requests for documents in writing to the person designated by the Postal Service as the one at the facility to receive such requests during the inspection. It is also Postal Service policy to respond as quickly as possible to such requests. All documents provided at the request of CSHO are recorded on a documentation log. The CSHO is authorized to review all records that are required to be maintained under the OSH Act. Examples of the types of records that can be reviewed include the OSHA log and summary and PS Form 1769/301 when it is used to record injuries and illnesses.

825.442 Medical Records

In certain instances, the CSHO may ask to review the medical records of some employees in order to verify compliance with the medical surveillance record–keeping requirement of an OSH standard. Access to medical records must be coordinated through the senior area medical director.

If the CSHO wishes to record or copy any medical records, a written access order in the form set forth in the OSHA Field Information Reference Manual must be provided.

825.45 Participation
825.451 Management Participation during Inspections

The safety professional, or designee, must accompany the CSHO during the walk–around portion of the inspection. The collateral duty FSC should also participate in the inspection. Representatives of Operations, In–Plant Support, and Maintenance must be with the CSHO whenever possible.

Management representatives, including managers and supervisors, must not sign any statements, affidavits, or notes.

825.452 Interviews of Management and Supervisory Personnel

Postal Service policy is:

  1. To cooperate with CSHO requests for interviews with representatives of management, including supervisors and staff. Management should work with the CSHO to schedule such interviews so as not to interfere with mail processing. Subject to this consideration, management employees should be made available for interviews as soon as possible.
  2. To have a representative of the Postal Service present for the entire interview. The representative may be an employee from Human Resources or Safety, a counsel, or a senior official or his or her designee.
  3. Not to consent to the audio or video taping or other recording of interviews with representatives of management. The only exception is if OSHA issues an investigatory subpoena requiring a witness to appear for a formal, sworn, recorded interview. In such cases, the representative of management must be represented by counsel.
  4. Not to allow representatives of management to sign statements, affidavits, notes, or other documents prepared by OSHA during interviews.
825.453 Employee Participation during Inspections

Union representatives from the local safety and health committee must be given the opportunity, in accordance with 824.3, to accompany CSHOs during inspections.

CSHOs also may consult with other nonsupervisory employees who are not part of the inspection team and may request to interview them in private or with their union representatives during the walk around. The CSHO may be permitted to talk with employees at their workstations for no more than 5 minutes. If further conversation is desired, the Postal Service walk–around representative should offer to make the employee available for a scheduled interview by the CSHO. Management should work with the CSHO to schedule such interviews so as not to interfere with production. Subject to this consideration, employees should be made available for interviews as soon as reasonably possible.

Employee representatives are on the clock whenever the inspection is conducted during the employee’s regular work schedule. Employees are not compensated for time spent accompanying CSHOs outside of their work schedule.

825.46 Methods
825.461 Walk–Around Inspection

There are several types of inspections (see Handbook EL–802) that may involve detailed inspection of all areas and a thorough records review.

Normally, in an inspection triggered by a complaint, the CSHO limits the inspection to the items listed in the employee’s report. The scope of the inspection may, however, extend to other areas of the Postal Service installation. During the walk–around inspection, the CSHO examines each item mentioned in the employee’s report.

The CSHO may take photographs of or videotape any conditions observed. The Postal Service must duplicate as closely as possible each photograph or videotape taken by the CSHO and should specify in the detailed notes what each photograph shows. If necessary, as a less preferred but acceptable alternative, before the inspection begins, a written agreement may be reached with the CSHO that at the conclusion of the inspection, OSHA will promptly provide the Postal Service with copies of all the photos or videotapes that it has taken of the observed conditions.

The CSHO may use measuring devices or instruments to determine compliance with the OSH Act. The safety professional or designee must record the type of instrument used and the readings obtained, and take duplicate measurements using Postal Service instruments.

The CSHO can dismiss from the inspection team, at any time, anyone interfering with the orderly conduct of the inspection. If a management representative is dismissed, the occurrence must be thoroughly documented. Another management representative must be immediately named to complete the inspection.

825.462 Health Sampling

To determine whether a violation of health standards exists, the CSHO may collect samples, including full–shift (8–hour tour) sampling. Such sampling may require the wearing of sampling devices by employees. Postal Service officials are to cooperate with the CSHO and are to encourage cooperation by employees.

If the CSHO desires to conduct such monitoring, the Postal Service representative must request a delay until the Postal Service brings to the site an industrial hygienist or other person qualified to perform parallel monitoring. When such requests are made, the senior Postal Service official must immediately notify the district manager, area manager, Safety, and district manager, Safety, by telephone. Every effort must be made to bring the Postal Service hygienist to the site as soon as possible.

When OSHA conducts health sampling, the Postal Service must take duplicate samples and send the samples to an accredited laboratory for analysis. Proper chain–of–custody procedures established by the laboratory must be followed. Sample results must be retained locally and transmitted to the district Safety and area Human Resources.

825.47 Immediate Correction of Imminent Dangers or Other Violations

During an inspection, a CSHO may point out conditions that may be considered to be imminent dangers under the OSH Act. Immediate efforts are to be made to evaluate the condition. If it appears that such a danger is present, the corrections are to be made immediately, if possible, or to remove the exposed employees from the zone of danger. Whenever feasible, correct other potential violations or hazards pointed out by the CSHO during the visit.

825.48 Closing Conference

After completing the review of records, employee interviews (if necessary), and the walk-around inspection, the CSHO ordinarily will conduct an exit conference with the senior Postal Service official and other team members. If the CSHO does not offer to conduct the conference, one should be requested. If the Postal Service installation has a full-time safety professional, that person must also attend this closing conference. If any safety professionals have been called in from a plant or district, they must also attend the closing conference along with the collateral duty FSC.

Employee representatives from the walk-around inspection must also attend. During this conference, all conditions or practices that the CSHO believes may constitute safety or health violations should be reviewed. Efforts should be made to have the CSHO explain in as much detail as possible what violations he or she believes have been observed, and what citations, if any, he or she intends to recommend for issuance to the area director.

825.49 Post Conference Internal Communications

Following the closing conference, the senior Postal Service official must immediately notify the area vice president that the inspection has been completed.

It is policy and direction of the General Counsel that following the closing conference, the installation head must prepare a memorandum for and directed to the General Counsel summarizing OSHA’s findings and any other pertinent information concerning the inspection. This report must be considered privileged and confidential as attorney-client communications and attorney-work product. The report must be prepared and transmitted to the servicing area General Counsel within 48 hours of the closing conference. Copies of the report are to be sent only to the area Human Resources manager and the manager, SOCP. No other copies are to be distributed.

825.5 Citations

825.51 Issuance and Posting

Following an inspection, if violations have been observed, OSHA may issue citations alleging violations and stating a proposed penalty and proposed abatement date (OSHA Form 2, Citation and Notification of Penalty).

Upon receipt of a citation, notify area and Headquarters General Counsel and SOCP. A copy must be faxed or emailed immediately to SOCP, Headquarters, and the vice president of Area Operations. The citations must be forwarded to the district safety manager immediately (by COB that day) and entered into the national citation management tracking system by the district safety office, who will update each entry promptly until the citation is resolved and closed.

In accordance with the instructions that accompany the citations, copies of the citations are to be posted in the affected facility at the locations where important announcements are customarily posted for employees. The citations are to remain posted until they are finally resolved.

825.52 Abatement

A citation includes a proposed date by which each alleged violative condition must be corrected. The length of the period allowed varies based on:

  1. The type of hazard involved,
  2. The severity of the risk to employees, and
  3. OSHA’s assessment of the difficulty of correcting the hazard.

It is the policy of the Postal Service to abate violative conditions promptly. Whether a condition constitutes a violation, and whether a proposed penalty, abatement date, and means of abatement are reasonable, however, are matters to be resolved with OSHA once the citation has been reviewed by Headquarters SOCP and the Headquarters General Counsel.

825.53 Informal Conference

To assist in determining whether to contest or resolve a citation, the installation head (in concert with the Headquarters, area, and district safety representatives) must request an informal conference with the OSHA area director who issued the citation. Informal conferences are managed by area or Headquarters Safety and OSHA Compliance Programs, and attended by field legal counsel or Headquarters legal counsel as deemed appropriate by Headquarters.

825.54 Citation Management and Procedure for Paying Fines

Citations must be managed in accordance with instructions from the Headquarters General Counsel and SOCP. (See Handbook EL-802 and OSHA publications therein about citations and required actions.)

825.6 District File of OSHA Inspections

The district file of OSHA inspections is the official record of OSHA compliance activity. However, the citation management tracking system must be kept current to assist in tracking and managing citations and to provide a database of OSHA compliance activity nationwide.

The district Human Resources manager, or designee, must maintain a file on each OSHA inspection. The file must include the following:

  1. A copy of any employee complaint letter or list of complaint items if the complainant wished to remain anonymous.
  2. Any citations (OSHA Form 2) and accompanying materials.
  3. The names of all CSHOs, management officials, and employees’ representatives participating in the inspection.
  4. Notes and other documentation, such as photographs, made by local management.
  5. All correspondence relative to correction of hazards, abatement plans, and procedures and documentation submitted to OSHA.
  6. Document log, if documents were provided to the CSHO.

All items listed above in the OSHA inspection file must be retained as stated in the , Records Control Schedule, items 32 to 43.