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.
April 29, 1996
Memorandum for Regional Administrators From: John B. Miles, Jr., Director Compliance Programs Subject: Joint Investigations with EPA
We are reviewing proposed protocols for joint inspections with EPA, as you are aware. Your comments will be part of our review process. Until those protocols are completed, however, you need to be aware of two areas which require action in addition to our normal procedures.
1. It is necessary to keep Regional EPA informed of the progress of our enforcement case, even if they have left the site. They should be aware of our plans for issuance of citations, for release of information (or non-release), and about litigation and/or settlement of the case.
2. It is important that EPA understand our policies for obtaining and handling of confidential business information, and that we reach agreement with them at the start of each inspection as to what information will be required, and which agency will obtain it. As you are aware, consistent with the recent decision in the Shell case, our policy now is to obtain company documents which are required for our investigation by means of subpoena. If we, or EPA, were to obtain information on a voluntarily basis, that fact could compromise our ability to include it in published reports about the accident.
If you have questions or comments on this topic, please let me know, or contact Ray Donnelly on 202-219-8041, ext. 101, or by e-mail.