The following sections list the obligations employers must agree to when making a request for on-site consultation service through the PA/OSHA Consultation Program.

In promoting the program, in response to any inquiry from the public regarding the program, and before agreeing to an employer's request for a consultation visit or formal on-site training, the consultation project manager or his/her designated representative must clearly explain the following information:

CM WorkingIndependence. The consultation program is independent of federal or state OSHA enforcement.

Cost. Consultative services are provided at no cost to the employer and are supported by federal and state funds.

Confidentiality. The employer's name and the results of the on-site visit will remain confidential from state or federal enforcement, except in situations where imminent dangers or serious hazards are not corrected as agreed upon, or where the employer participates in a state's inspection deferral or recognition and exemption program.

Mission. The consultation program is dedicated to assisting small, high-hazard employers reduce occupational injuries and illnesses through the identification and correction of hazards.

Employee Participation. Employee participation is required in all site visits. Requirements vary according to whether the site has a recognized employee representative, as explained here:

  1. If the site has a recognized employee representative

    Then an employee representative of affected employees must be afforded an opportunity to participate in the opening and closing conferences and to accompany the consultant and the employer's representative during the physical inspection of the workplace. The consultant should encourage joint opening and closing conferences. If there is an objection to a joint conference, the consultant must conduct separate conferences with employer and employee representatives. The consultant may increase the number of employee participants in the physical inspection if he or she determines that additional representatives will improve the quality of the visit. The consultant may confer privately with the employee representative.

  2. If the site has no recognized employee representative,

    Then the consultant must confer with a reasonable number of employees during the course of the visit in order to identify and judge the extent of particular hazards within the scope of the employer's request and to evaluate the employer's safety and health management system. The employer must agree to permit such contact in order for the visit to proceed.

No Citations or Penalties. Consultants do not issue citations or propose penalties.

Imminent Danger Situations. The employer must correct imminent danger situations immediately, or remove employees from the danger area. Failure to remove employees from an imminent danger area will result in immediate referral to enforcement.

Hazard Correction. The employer must correct all serious hazards in accordance with mutually agreed-upon correction due dates and provide to the consultation project manager documentation of the action taken to eliminate or control the hazards. Failure to do so will result in referral to enforcement. Employers are encouraged to correct other-than-serious hazards in a timely manner, but need not send verification of correction to the consultation project manager, except in the case of inspection deferral status and SHARP.

Relationship to Enforcement. The consultant must fully explain the relationship between consultation and enforcement as described below.

  1. Enforcement Inspection in Progress. 
    A consultation visit may not take place while a federal or state enforcement inspection is in progress. A consultation project manager may elect either to decline the request until such time as all citations have been issued, or to accept the request and coordinate with the employer to set a visit date that falls after all citations have been issued. An enforcement inspection is considered in progress:

    • From the time a compliance officer initially seeks entry to the workplace to the end of the closing conference.

    • Where right of entry is refused, from the time a compliance officer initially seeks entry until the inspection is conducted and the closing conference held; the regional administrator determines that a warrant to require entry will be sought; or the regional administrator or state designee determines that allowing a consultation visit to proceed is in the best interest of the safety and health of employees.

  2. Consultation Services Following an Enforcement Inspection.  Following an enforcement inspection, no consultation visit may take place until it has been determined that either no citations will be issued or a citation has been issued, the contest period has passed, and cited items have become final orders. If the consultant has reason to believe there are citations that have not become final orders, the consultation project manager must contact the OSHA area office to determine their status.

  3. Enforcement Inspections Following Consultation Services. The following conditions apply if an enforcement inspection occurs after consultation services have been provided. The consultant's written report to the employer may be used by enforcement to determine the employer's “good faith” for purposes of adjusting any proposed penalties and judging the extent to which an inspection is required.

  4. No Exemption from Citations. Regardless of the advice of the consultant and the consultant's written report to the employer, in a subsequent inspection, a compliance officer is not precluded from finding hazardous conditions or violations of standards, rules, or regulations for which citations would be issued and penalties proposed.

  5. Pre-SHARP/SHARP. If an employer satisfies all of the conditions required to participate in Pre-SHARP/SHARP program, then that particular worksite may be exempt from programmed inspections for a period not less than one year.

  6.  Posting the List of Hazards. The employer must agree to post the List of Hazards, as it was received from the consultation project, for either three working days or until the hazards identified on the list are corrected, whichever is later. Agreed-upon modifications or extensions of correction due dates must also be posted. Posting must be in a prominent place where it is readily observable by all affected employees. While in most instances this will entail posting a hard copy of the List of Hazards, posting by electronic means is acceptable in cases where electronic transmission is the employer's normal means of providing notices to employees and each employee is equipped with an electronic communication device. Failure to post the List of Hazards will result in the termination of the Consultation “visit in progress” status.

Employer's Rights. Besides the obligations stated above, the employer also retains the following rights during and after a consultation visit:

  1. Modifying the Scope of the Visit or Terminating the Service.

    The employer has the right to modify the scope of the visit or terminate participation in the visit at any time, including termination of the hazard survey before its completion. The employer is responsible for correcting any serious hazards identified up to the point of termination and, except in situations where imminent danger or serious hazards are not corrected as agreed upon, the employer's name and the results of the on-site visit will remain confidential in accordance with Section C, above to disagree with the correction schedules and may, within fifteen working days of receipt of the Written Report to the Employer, appeal to the consultation project manager for amendment of the correction date(s) or any other substantive findings of the report. Disagreement over or amendment of the correction schedule or report findings does not relieve the employer of the responsibility to correct serious hazards identified.
  2. Informing Enforcement.

    If an enforcement inspection occurs after the conclusion of the consultation visit in progress, the employer is not required to inform the CSHO of the consultation on-site visit or furnish a copy of the results, except to the extent that disclosure of information contained in such a report is required by 29 CFR 1910.1020 or other standards.

Private Discussion with the Consultant. The employer has the right to request a private meeting with the consultant to discuss matters that he or she may wish not to discuss in the presence of the employee representative.

Termination of a Consultation Visit in Progress

The status "Consultation visit in progress" must be terminated when OSHA initiates any of the following categories of inspections or investigations:

  1. Imminent danger investigations
  2. Fatality/catastrophe investigations
  3. Formal complaint investigations
  4. Follow-up on previously cited violations that have not become final orders

Referral to Enforcement

Where the consultation project manager determines that a serious hazard persists at a site that has received a consultation service, the consultation project manager must make a referral to OSHA. Any of the following conditions is grounds for referral to OSHA:

  1. An imminent danger situation that is not immediately corrected by the employer
  2. A serious hazard that is not corrected within the established time frame, including extensions