Cal/OSHA Encourages All Employers to Verify Inspector's Credentials
The California Department of Industrial Relations' Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) is investigating several incidents involving a man impersonating a Cal/OSHA inspector and suspected of defrauding restaurant owners. Several similar incidents have occurred across Southern California, in the costal region near Santa Barbara and in Roseville. An investigation is ongoing and is being coordinated with local law enforcement where the incidents occurred.
After producing what appears to be a valid identification, the suspect inspects the worksite, finding alleged safety violations that, according to him, add up to thousands of dollars in fines. The suspect then informs the business owner that he will not issue citations if they give him some cash immediately.
"It is important for all employers to know that a Cal/OSHA inspector will never request payment onsite, under any circumstance. Moreover, an inspector will never request payment in lieu of citations," said acting Division Chief Len Welsh. "We encourage all employers to ask for a state identification card and a business card. If the employer has suspicions that the individual is not a true Cal/OSHA representative, additional verification may be obtained by calling Cal/OSHA's local office to ask about the individual."
Business owners should know that Cal/OSHA citations are payable only after issuance of a citation, and the preferred method is through the mail to the California Department of Industrial Relations accounting unit. All payment details are clearly spelled out on the citation itself when it is issued. If an inspector ever requests payment on site for any reason, employers are urged to call Cal/OSHA headquarters immediately at 510-286-7000. Cal/OSHA will then contact local law-enforcement officials.
Worksite health and safety inspections are typically conducted with no prior notice and Cal/OSHA representatives identify themselves to the employer by showing their State of California Photo Identification Card and Division of Occupational Safety and Health business card prior to conducting an inspection.
The Cal/OSHA inspection protocol includes the following:
* An inspector first identifies him or herself and requests permission to conduct the inspection. The employer is legally entitled to deny the inspection. If inspection is denied, Cal/OSHA requests a court warrant and returns to the worksite with the warrant and conducts the inspection;
* Upon obtaining permission to conduct an inspection, the inspector first discusses with the employer his/her rights and responsibilities during an inspection, as well as what happens during the inspection process;
* An inspector walks and reviews the employer's premises and interviews employees;
* An inspection is concluded with another discussion that includes what hazards were identified; if citations will be issued, an inspector explains the process for those, as well.
* Cal/OSHA rarely issues citations on site;
* It is never proper for a Cal/OSHA investigator to request any kind of payment during the inspection.
Last month the Roseville Police Department issued a warrant for the arrest of a man it believes was part of two incidents in February involving impersonating a Cal/OSHA inspector.
For more on Cal/OSHA inspection procedures, local district office contact information, or general workplace safety, visit the Cal/OSHA Web site at www.dir.ca.gov/ dosh. For a copy of the Roseville Police press release of March 12, visit its Web site at www.roseville.ca.us/civica/press.