OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at https://www.osha.gov.

July 21, 1977

Ms. Gayle Schmidt
General Manager
Wando Corporation
P.O. Box 124
Glendora, New Jersey 08029

Dear Ms. Schmidt:

We are in receipt of your mailgram, dated June 30, 1977, addressed to the Secretary of Labor. In this correspondence you questioned our authority to take photographs during the course of an inspection.

The Compliance Safety and Health Officers of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have been given authority by 29 CFR 1903.7(b) "to take or obtain photographs related to the purpose of the investigation". Taking photographs during the course of an inspection is a normal investigative tool used by our Compliance Officers in order to support apparent violations of our standards.

However, the rights of the employer concerning trade secrets are protected by 29 CFR 1903.9. At the commencement of an inspection the employer has the rights to identify areas in his establishment which contain or which might reveal a trade secret. All information obtained in these areas will be labeled "confidential-trade secret" and will not be disclosed except in accordance with the provisions of Section 15 of the Act.

Review of the Compliance Officer's report indicated that you did not refuse to permit him to take photographs nor did you identify any areas in your establishment which contained trade secrets.

The photographs of your establishment were legally obtained and will remain as part of the case file. However, appropriate action is being taken to prevent disclosure.

If I may be of any further assistance, please feel free to contact me.


Richard P. Wilson
Deputy Director,
Federal Compliance and State Programs