TOSHA Inspection Procedures
What to Expect During a TOSHA Inspection
The compliance officers will present their credentials to the employer and perform an opening conference with the employer. Information will be provided on employer and employee rights and information about the company's safety and health program will be discussed. A walk-through inspection will be performed including management and employee interviews, air and noise readings, air flow and distance measurements, reviews of Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), and reviews of programs (Lockout Tagout, Confined Spaces). A closing conference will be held. For each apparent violation found during the inspection, the compliance officer will discuss with you the nature of the violation; possible abatement measures that you may take to correct the violations; and possible abatement date you may be required to meet.
Inspections are Performed Based on the Following Priority:
Imminent Danger - Where a fatality or catastrophic event is soon to occur.
Accident Investigations - Where an accident with injuries, a fatality or hospitalization of one or more employees has occurred.
Complaints - Where a signed written complaint is filed by an employee.
Referrals - Where a referral of a hazard or hazards is made by a reliable source.
General Scheduled - Where a company is randomly chosen from a list of companies with high hazard Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) Codes.
Follow-Ups - Where inspections are performed to ensure the correction of hazards.
The Citation and Notification of Penalty
The Citation and Notification of Penalty must be issued within 180 days of the inspection. The citation sets the seriousness of the violations, sets penalties, and sets the abatement dates for each violation. The citation or copy of it must be posted at or near the place each violation occurred to let employees know about hazards to which they may be exposed. The citation must remain posted for three working days or until the violation is corrected, whichever is longer (Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays are not counted as working days). You must comply with these posting requirements even if you contest the citation. If you agree to the citation and penalty, you must correct the condition by the date set in the citation and pay the penalty, if one is proposed; document abatement on the form that you received with the citation and return it to the area supervisor.
At your written request, the Director and/or other representatives of TOSHA will discuss the contents of the citation and notification of penalty at an informal conference. The informal conference must be held within 20 calendar days of the receipt of the citation. You may use the informal conference as an opportunity to question the citation regarding violation, penalty, and abatement date; to obtain a more complete understanding of the specific standards which apply; to discuss ways to correct the violations; and to obtain answers to any other related questions you may have. Please note: A notice of the informal conference and copy of the draft citations must be posted at least 24 hours prior to the meeting. Employees are entitled to participate in the meeting under TDOL Rule 0800-1-4-.20 "informal conferences." A copy of this notice must be brought to the informal conference. If no request for an informal conference is made, the citation, abatement dates, and penalties become a final order 20 days after receipt.
Contesting a Violation
If you contest the violation, penalty, or abatement date, you must notify the administrator within 20 days after the receipt of the citation. The written notice of contest must clearly state what is being contested. If your notice of contest is properly filed, the administrator will forward your case to a three member independent agency appointed by the governor: the Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The commission will schedule a hearing on the facts of your case. The Review Commission may uphold, modify, or eliminate any item of the citation that you have challenged.
Penalties must be paid within 30 calendar days after the citation and notification of penalty has been issued. To ensure that we properly credit your debt in a timely manner, send your payment to TOSHA with the inspection number identified on your check. Pursuant to T.C.A. § 50-3-107, interest and delinquent charges will be assessed for all unpaid fines over 30 days. Interest charges will be assessed at an interest rate established pursuant to T.C.A. § 67-1-801(a)(1) on all penalty debt amounts not paid within one month (30 calendar days) of the date on which the debt amount becomes due and payable. A debt is considered delinquent if it has not been paid within one month (30 calendar days) of the issue date on the citation. In addition to the interest applied a delinquent penalty of 10 percent will be assessed each fine unpaid at 30, 60, and 90 days for a maximum of 30 percent. A fine unpaid at 180 days will be referred to the State Attorney General for disposition.
If, however, you contest the citation or penalty in good faith, you need not pay for those items contested until a final decision is made.
You may document abatement of cited violations on the Abatement Form that you received with the citations. You may copy the form if more space is needed. This information should be sent back in a timely manner so that we can document your abatement measures dependent on abatement dates that were established at our closing conference. This is sent to the Area Supervisor. To achieve abatement by the date set forth in the citation, it is important that abatement efforts be promptly initiated. Penalties may be proposed for failure to correct cited violations.
Free Consultation Resources
TOSHA's Consultation Resources Program provides "abatement" assistance and advice at no direct cost to employers who request it. This service is available if the compliance citations are not contested and the employer desires to improve working conditions. Call (615) 741-2793 for more on consultative services.
Modifying Abatement Dates
Abatement dates are established on the basis of the information available at the time the citation is issued. When uncontrollable events or other circumstances present your meeting an abatement date, you may request an extension. This extension request must be in writing. It must state the reasons that you are requesting the extension and the measures that you have taken up to this point to abate the violations. Extensions are granted by the Area Supervisor. Employees or their authorized representative may contest any or all of the abatement dates if they believe them to be unreasonable.
If you receive a citation, a follow-up inspection may be conducted to verify that you posted the citation as required, corrected the violations as required in the citation, and adequately protected employees during multi-step or lengthy abatement periods.
Protection of Employees Who Make Safety and Health Complaints
The Act prohibits employers from discharging or discriminating against an employee who has exercised any right under the law, including the right to make safety and health complaints or to request an inspection from TOSHA. Complaints from employees who believe they have been discriminated against will be investigated by TOSHA.