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Minnesota OSHA Compliance has established a system of inspection priorities described below. Inspections are conducted without advance notice. If an employer refuses to admit a MNOSHA investigator or if an employer attempts to interfere with the inspection MNOSHA may pursue legal action to obtain entry.

Imminent danger

Imminent danger situations are given top priority. An imminent danger is any condition or practice that presents a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could occur immediately or before the danger can be eliminated through normal enforcement procedures. MNOSHA becomes aware of these situations through reports received from employees, the general public or direct observation by an investigator.

If an imminent danger situation is identified, the safety and health investigator will ensure the endangered employees are removed from the exposure.

Fatal accidents and catastrophes

Second priority is given to investigations of work-related fatalities and catastrophes. Fatalities are defined as employee deaths resulting from an employment accident or illness caused by or related to a workplace hazard. OSHA considers catastrophes to be accidents resulting in hospitalization of three or more employees. “Hospitalization” means an injured employee is admitted to a hospital as an inpatient. All work-related fatalities and catastrophes must be reported to MNOSHA by the employer within eight hours.

MNOSHA investigates to determine the cause of such accidents, whether existing OSHA standards were violated and whether the promulgation of additional standards is necessary to help avoid a recurrence of similar accidents.

Employee complaints

Third priority is given to formal employee complaints concerning unsafe or unhealthful working conditions.

Every employee can notify MNOSHA to request an inspection when he or she thinks there is a violation of an OSHA standard that threatens physical harm to employees. MNOSHA will maintain confidentiality of the complainant’s identity and will inform the complainant of any action it takes regarding the complaint.

Programmed inspections

Fourth priority is given to programmed (routine) inspections. Industries are selected for programmed inspections based on factors such as workers’ compensation claims or special emphasis programs.

Followup inspections

Final priority is given to followup inspections, which are done to determine if previously cited violations have been corrected. If an employer has failed to abate a violation, he or she is subject to “Failure to Abate” violations and additional penalties.