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Do I have to cooperate with a workplace inspection?

If you have concerns about the safety of your worksite, then you should inform your superiors and give them proper opportunity to address the issue. However, in some cases, your complaints may trigger an inspection from an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) representative, so you should know what that means for your employer and how to keep your interests protected in the process.

When OSHA representatives perform an inspection, your employer is placed in a delicate position. This agency exists to protect the safety of workers, especially on dangerous worksites, and employers generally get very defensive when an OSHA representative arrives at a worksite. In some cases, your employer may instruct you not to cooperate with an investigation, which can place you in a difficult position.

On the one hand, your employer does not necessarily have to comply with every request that an OSHA representative makes. For instance, an OSHA representative may ask that members of your team re-enact an accident. Legally, your employer does not have to allow this. Similarly, OSHA representatives often ask to record statements from employees, but you are not required by law to allow them to record you. If your employer asks that you refuse the recording, then you could be in a very difficult situation.

The reality of the matter is that navigating the aftermath of an onsite accident or safety violation is not always cut and dried when you want to keep both your rights and your employment protected. It is always wise to consult with an experienced attorney to ensure that you have an advocate on your side who is solely concerned with protecting your rights. Proper legal counsel can help ensure that your protecting own safety and best interests remain at the center of your decisions in the workplace.

Source: Contractor Magazine, "Are you prepared for a visit from OSHA?," Collin D. Cook, June 16, 2017

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Making a false or fraudulent workers’ compensation claim is a felony subject to 5 years in prison or up to $50,000 or double the value of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine.

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