There are various types of inspections officiated by OSHA that employers are subjected to. Some of these inspections seems very similar, if not the same, which may lead to some confusion. Specifically, follow-up inspections and monitoring inspections have very similar characteristics but are implemented for different purposes.
The purpose of a follow-up inspection is to determine if previously issued violations have been corrected. This acts as a “check-up” on employers and provides additional enforcement of citations. Citations are often punishable by monetary fines; however, OSHA has an interest in making sure the employers correct the cited issue, rather than simply paying for the fine and continuing their incorrect practices. This need for additional means of enforcement of OSHA’s standards and regulations establish the purpose and necessity of follow-up inspections.
In contrast, a monitoring inspection is conducted to ensure that hazards in a working environment are being corrected. Further, monitoring inspections check that employees are being protected from these hazards. Monitoring is necessary when corrections are being taken place over a period of time necessary to fall in compliance with OSHA’s standards regulating workplace hazards.
It is important to understand the individual purpose of these two inspections because the procedure of facilitating them is essentially the same. For example, typical candidates for either of these inspections are ones who repeatedly receive serious violations in willful disregard of OSHA’s established regulations, or those who fail to respond to notifications and/or citations related to hazards causing imminent danger.
Employers may avoid these inspections if they show evidence that of their action to remedy the cited issues. This noncompliance following a citation is known as “failure to abate.” If it is determined that an employer failed to abate, then a “Notice of Failure to Abate Alleged Violation” is issued, if a subsequent inspection shows that a condition has still not been corrected, then further action will be taken. Normally, there is no additional follow-up or monitoring inspection required unless it has been determined that significant changes in the workplace require further inspection.