Federal OSHA (“Fed-OSHA”) must approve the plan (i.e., state plans must be at least "as effective as" Fed-OSHA)
However, state plans are not required to be identical to Federal OSHA ( e.g. , among other unique regulations, Cal/OSHA has an ergonomics regulation)
State OSH Plans Covering the Private & Public Sectors NOTE: Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and the Virgin Islands have plans that cover public sector employees only. Fed-OSHA covers private sector employees in these jurisdictions. Wyoming Washington Virginia Vermont Utah Tennessee S. Carolina Puerto Rico Oregon N. Carolina New Mexico Nevada Minnesota Michigan Maryland Kentucky Iowa Indiana Hawaii California Arizona Alaska
OSHA personnel are almost always prohibited from giving advance notice of an inspection.
By statute, OSHA is authorized to conduct investigations during “regular working hours and at other reasonable times, and within reasonable limits and in a reasonable manner” once a compliance officer presents his/her credentials.
You generally have a right to insist upon a search warrant before submitting to an onsite inspection. (This isn’t the case when conditions are public and/or in emergency situations.) However, you need to determine whether it makes sense for your business to exercise this right.
The opening conference is a good opportunity to raise concerns about “trade secrets.” An employer may identify areas in the facility that contain trade secrets. Typically, the compliance officer will not contest this designation and information from such areas will be treated as confidential by OSHA, preventing the information’s release to other parties via a Freedom of Information Act request or the like.
Employees and representatives of employees (e.g., union business agents or union stewards) have the right to attend an opening conference. An employer can insist on separate opening conferences, but there’s no real advantage in doing so.
The opening conference is typically followed by a walkaround inspection based on the scope of the investigation. (The compliance officer may review records before actually touring the facility.) Don’t “walkaround” beyond the scope of the investigation .
Note that an inspection with a limited initial scope (e.g., a “special emphasis” programmed inspection or inspection based on a specific employee complaint) may become broader in scope due to a compliance officer’s observations, employee complaints during the inspection, etc.
The compliance officer has the right to request one-on-one interviews with employees about safety conditions. Employees may refuse such a request if they are not under subpoena. Employees can also end an interview at any time or object to signing a statement or having the conversation recorded.
Even under subpoena, OSHA’s interview privilege does not trump an employee’s right to an attorney, so employees may insist on having legal counsel present.