Despite a reputation of being a meddling bureaucracy, OSHA serves a necessary purpose by inspecting workplaces in the construction industry, which OSHA claims to be the most dangerous profession. It is important to keep in mind that both parties to an inspection--OSHA and the employer--have their rights and responsibilities.
Most OSHA inspections are conducted without advance notice, for various reasons, ranging from employee complaints to dangerous on-site conditions. OSHA inspections begin with an opening conference at which the OSHA inspector explains their reason for the inspection. Following this conference, the OSHA officer and an employee representative will tour the jobsite, observing safety and health conditions and practices. The OSHA officer will consult with employees, privately if necessary. Under no circumstances should the employer interfere with an OSHA inspection. Following the inspection, the OSHA officer will conduct a closing conference to discuss the findings of the inspection. It is at this time that any citations or penalties will be given, and the employer informed of their appeal rights.
Once an employer is informed of a citation, they can either correct the condition, or contest the citation. An employer has 15 days in which to contest the citation in writing. The items that can be contested are: the citation itself, the proposed penalty, or the date by which you must correct the violation.