Q & A: OSHA Inspections - Warrants & Denial of Entry
Question: “can you refuse access if they refuse to sign in?”
Answer: Yes, you can: “…an employer has a right to require that the CSHO seek an inspection warrant prior to entering an establishment and may refuse entry without such a warrant.”
And here’s what happens when you do, straight from the Occupation Safety & Health Officer’s Field Manual…
Refusal to Permit Inspection and Interference.
Section 8 of the Act provides that CSHOs may enter without delay and at reasonable times any establishment covered under the Act for the purpose of conducting an inspection.
Unless the circumstances constitute a recognized exception to the warrant requirement (e.g., consent, third party consent, plain view, open field, open construction site or exigent circumstances) an employer has a right to require that the CSHO seek an inspection warrant prior to entering an establishment and may refuse entry without such a warrant.
1. Refusal of Entry or Inspection.
a. When the employer refuses to permit entry upon being presented proper credentials, or allows entry but then refuses to permit or hinders the inspection in some way, an attempt shall be made to obtain as much information as possible 3-6 about the establishment. See Chapter 15, Legal Issues, for additional information.
b. If the employer refuses to allow an inspection of the establishment to proceed, the CSHO shall leave the premises and immediately report the refusal to the Area Director or designee. The Area Director shall notify the RSOL.
c. If the employer raises no objection to inspection of certain portions of the workplace but objects to inspection of other portions, this shall be documented. Normally, the CSHO shall continue the inspection, confining it only to those certain portions to which the employer has raised no objections. d. In either case, the CSHO shall advise the employer that the refusal will be reported to the Area Director or designee and that the agency may take further action, which may include obtaining legal process. e. On multi-employer worksites, valid consent can be granted by the owner, or another employer with employees at the worksite, for site entry.
Release for Entry.
1. CSHOs shall not sign any form or release or agree to any waiver. This includes any employer forms concerned with trade secret information.
2. CSHOs may obtain a pass or sign a visitor’s register, or any other book or form used by the establishment to control the entry and movement of persons upon its premises. Such signature shall not constitute any form of a release or waiver of prosecution for liability under the Act.