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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 http://www.osha.gov.
May 29, 1992
Mr. Gene White
National Safety Representative
National Veterans Administration Council
P.O. Box 271
Muskogee, Oklahoma 74402
Dear Mr. White:
This is in response to your letter of April 3, 1992, requesting answers to nine questions regarding the regulations at 29 CFR Part 1960 - Basic Program Elements for Federal Employee OSH Programs and Related Matters. The answers to your questions are enclosed.
We hope that this information is useful to you. Please let us know if we may be of further assistance.
Patricia K. Clark Director
Directorate of Compliance
1. Does 29 CFR 1960.25 (c) require all rooms and work areas to be inspected annually? Does this require the inspector look into every room for unsafe or unhealthful conditions?
29 CFR 1960.25 (c) calls for comprehensive annual inspections. OSHA's Field Operations Manual (FOM) defines a comprehensive inspection as a "substantially complete inspection of the potentially high hazard areas of an establishment." The FOM further states that "An inspection may be deemed comprehensive even though, as a result of the exercise of professional judgement, not all potentially hazardous conditions, operations and practices within those areas are inspected."
2. Can an agency conduct safety inspections and health inspections on alternate years?
The regulation at 29 CFR 1960.25(c) charges each agency with the responsibility to conduct an annual workplace safety and health inspection. Generally speaking, if the safety inspector conducting the "safety inspection" also is trained to identify health hazards, then the requirement for an annual safety and health inspection would be met. However, if the safety inspection covers safety hazards only, and if the health inspection covers health hazards only, then the practice of providing safety inspections on one year and health inspections on the alternate year would not meet the requirements of this part.
3. What should Federal employees do when their agency fails to comply with these requirements?
Federal employees in a particular agency within a Department should point out deficiencies in their agency's safety and health program to their Department's Designated Agency Safety and Health Official (DASHO).
4. Is the inspection report on safety required to be completed and issued no later than 15 days after the inspection?
No. 29 CFR 1960.26 (c)(2) requires that Notices of Unsafe or Unhealthful Working Conditions, not the inspection report, be issued not later than 15 days after the completion of inspections for safety inspections, unless there are compelling reasons why the Notice cannot be issued within 15 days. The regulations at 29 CFR 1960.26 do not require that the complete safety inspection report be completed within a specific timeframe.
5. Is the inspection report on health required to be completed and issued no later than 30 days after the inspection?
No. Notices of Unsafe or Unhealthful Working Conditions for health hazards, not the inspection report, are to be issued not later than 30 days after the inspection. The regulations at 29 CFR 1960.26 do not require that the complete health inspection report be completed within a specific timeframe.
6. Should each Notice describe the nature and degree of seriousness of the unsafe or unhealthful condition?
Yes. Please see 29 CFR 1960.26(c)(2)(i).
7. What should Federal employees do if abatement is not accomplished by the abatement date indicated on the Notice?
Federal employees should report this deficiency to the agency inspector that issued the Notice if abatement is not accomplished by the date indicated.
8. Are inspectors to provide a complete copy of the report to the employee representative who participated in the closing conference?
29 CFR 1960.26(c)(2) requires inspectors to provide the employee representative(s) who participated in the closing conference with copies of the Notice of Unsafe or Unhealthful Working Conditions, not the complete inspection report.
Directorate of Compliance
U.S. Dept of Labor-OSHA
200 Constitution Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20210
Dear Ms. Clark:
Reference is made to 29 CFR 1960.25(c). Enclosed is a letter to VA's DASHO concerning the annual Safety and Health inspection at VAMC , Muskogee, Ok., on December 9-13, 1991. The Regional Director only allow only 3 days for an safety and health inspection of this facilities and there were places listed in the enclosed letter. (attachment A)
1. Does 1960.25(c) require all rooms and work area to be inspected for safety and health annually?
2. Does this require the inspector to open the doors and at least look in to every room for unsafe or unhealthful conditions?
3. Can the VA inspect for safety and in the report, the inspector states next year the Regional Hygienist will provide a comprehensive health inspection. Is this in compliance with 1960.25(c)? (attachment B)
4. What should we as Federal Employees do when VA's fail to comply with these regulations?
Reference is made to 1960.26(c).
5. Is the inspection report on safety required to be completed and issued no later than 15 days after the inspection?
6. Is the inspection report on health required to be completed and issued no later than 30 days after the inspection?
7. Is each violation required to describe the nature and degree of seriousness of the unsafe or unhealthful condition?
8. If the abatement of the unsafe or unhealthful conditions are not abated according to the posted Notice Of Unsafe or Unhealthful Conditions, what should we as Federal Employees do to facilitate compliance?
Reference is made to 1960.26(c)(iii).
9. Does this require the inspectors to provide a complete copy of the report with narrative to the Employees Representative who participated in the closing conference?
The above questions are asked by the Health and Safety Representatives of my Bargaining Unit. I would appreciate having OSHA's Official Position and suggestions on remedial action for these employees who are Employees Representatives. I would appreciate your reply at your earliest convenience.
Thanking You For Assistance.
National Safety and Health Representative
P.O. Box 271
Muskogee, Okla. 74402
cc: Lana Katz