Frequently Asked Questions: VOSH Compliance

How did I get selected for this inspection?

Inspections are based on general scheduling, complaints or referrals. General scheduling is established from high injury and illness data from your specific industry. Of course, if you suffer a work related fatality or injuries involving the hospitalization of three or more of your employees you are required by law to report the incident to VOSH and an inspection will follow.

How long is this inspection going to take?

This is based on what we find during our inspection. If we see no violations and you have a good safety program in place, inspections are shorter than if we find numerous safety and health violations.

How much are the fines going to be?

Fines vary too greatly to give any amount here. Even giving an average fine amount would not be indicative of the fine you may or may not receive, since some fines run very high for companies that are virtually disregarding safety. VOSH has always taken the position that the penalty structure provided under �40.1-49.4, Code of Virginia, is intended primarily to provide an incentive toward correcting violations voluntarily, not only to the offending employer, but also to other employers who may be in violation of the same infractions of the standards or regulations.

How does VOSH determine how much the fines will be?

Fines are based on the gravity of the violation, the size of the business, the good faith of the employer and the employer’s history of previous violations.

What if I don't agree with the citations?

You can schedule an informal conference with your VOSH regional office. An informal conference may be held for the purpose of discussing any issue raised by the inspection, citation, abatement order, proposed penalty, notice of contest, or any other disputed issue.

Can I contest the citations? If so, what is the contest process?

Yes. An employer to whom a citation or proposed penalty has been issued may contest the citation by notifying, in writing, the VOSH regional office that issued the citation(s). The notice of contest must be mailed or delivered by hand within 15 working days from the receipt of the citation or proposed penalty. No mistake, inadvertence, or neglect on the part of the employer shall serve to extend the 15 working day period in which the employer must contest.

How do I file a complaint? Can I do it all on-line?

Any person who believes that a safety or health hazard exists in a workplace may request an inspection by giving notice to the Commissioner. See How to File a Complaint. Written complaints signed by an employee or an authorized representative will be treated as formal complaints. Complaints by persons other than employees and authorized representatives and unsigned complaints by employees or authorized representatives shall be treated as nonformal complaints. Nonformal complaints will generally be handled by letter; formal complaints will generally result in an inspection.

Where do I get a copy of the VOSH standards? How much do they cost?

VOSH standards are virtually identical to the Federal standards with a few unique exceptions that are listed on this Web site. OSHA standards and regulations may be accessed on OSHA’s website:  OSHA standards books are available through the following sources: MANNCOMM 1-888-322-4942, Government Printing Office 1-202-512-1800, and CCH 1-800-835-5224.  A charge will likely be associated with purchasing the books.

Today is not convenient, can you come another day?

Section 40.1-49.8, Code of Virginia, provides that Compliance officers may enter without delay and at reasonable times any establishment covered under the law for the purpose of conducting an inspection. An employer has the constitutional right to require that the officer seek an inspection warrant prior to entering an establishment and may refuse entry without such a warrant. This is known as a “denial of entry” and a warrant will be sought.

So, Is Federal OSHA also going to inspect us?

No. Virginia has its own state plan and conducts inspections under the guidance of Federal OSHA. However, Federal OSHA or other Federal Agencies with safety and health jurisdiction (e.g., Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA)) still inspect the following in Virginia: Mines and Quarries, Railroads, Nuclear facilities, other Federal employers, Federal installations and private sector maritime employers.