General. As a rule, referrals will be handled in a manner
similar to that of complaints.
Definitions. For purposes of this chapter, a referral is
normally distinguished from a complaint by the source providing
information on the alleged hazard. Notices of hazards or alleged
violations originated by the sources listed below shall be
considered as referrals, except as otherwise noted. All other
notices of hazards shall be considered as complaints, including
employee complaints transmitted to the agency by other government
Sources of Referrals. Referrals may originate from the
following sources: industrial hygienist or compliance officer
referrals; safety and health agency referrals; safety and health
professional referrals; discrimination investigator referrals; other
government agency referrals; media reports.
a. CO/IH Referrals.
Types of CO/IH Referrals. There are two types of CO/IH
Safety (Health to Safety or Safety to Safety).
Health (Safety to Health or Health to Health).
This includes referrals from Federal OSHA.
Subject of CO/IH Referrals. Generally, CO/IH
referrals shall be limited to potentially serious
hazards observed during an inspection or visible from or in
public areas, such as streets, highways or the public areas
of business premises.
(3) Reinspections. When a serious citation is withdrawn
prior to settlement or administrative hearing because of
incomplete or erroneous inspection information or because of
administrative error which cannot be corrected through an
amendment to the citation, the Assistant
Commissioner/Authorized Representative shall handle the
reinspection of such cases as CO/IH referrals whenever there
is reason to believe that the violative conditions continue
Circumstances. There are circumstances when an CO/IH
referral may be necessary or appropriate, such as the
The CO/IH lacks the necessary expertise.
The CO/IH observing the hazard is already assigned to an
inspection of higher priority.
The CO/IH observes specific evidence of imminent danger
or serious hazards at a worksite not scheduled for an
Equipment necessary for an inspection is not available
at the time.
Efficient utilization of Regional Office resources
requires that a referral be made (e.g., the size of the
workplace, the number of employees involved, the length
of time likely to be required for an inspection, the
extent of hazards observed, etc.).
The observations occur outside the CO/IH's normal
working hours (CO/IH on annual leave, sick leave, etc.)
For inspection classification purposes, if an CO/IH
lacks the expertise to handle all complaint items
or to complete an imminent danger or accident
investigation or for some other reason requires
assistance from another CO/IH, within his own area
of assignment such assistance shall be counted as
part of the original complaint or imminent danger
and not as a referral. Such assistance shall not
be counted as a separate inspection unless another
discipline is involved (e.g., safety to health or
health to safety).
Safety and Health Agency Referrals. This category
includes referrals by NIOSH, 7(c)(1) consultation programs, and
For purposes of assigning an inspection priority, referrals
from these sources will be considered as equivalent to CO/IH
referrals, although not counted as such by IMIS.
Nonformal Discrimination Complaint Referrals. The
Assistant Commissioner/Authorized Representative may decide to
send nonformal discrimination complaints which also allege
hazardous working conditions or violation of MOSH regulations,
for investigation under the procedures for discrimination
If originally received in the MOSH Operations Office and
assigned to the Discrimination Unit for handling of the
discrimination complaint as outlined in Chapter X, such a
complaint will already have been recorded in the MOSH
Operations Office as a nonformal complaint if it also
includes a notice which meets the definition of
If the complaint was originally filed with the Assistant
Commissioner/Authorized Representative, it shall be recorded
by the MOSH Operations Office as a nonformal complaint.
When a nonformal complaint is received from the
Discrimination Investigator with a recommendation for
inspection, it shall be scheduled for inspection and
assigned a priority in accordance with the procedure for
formal serious complaints, above.
Other Government Agency Referrals. Notifications of
hazards observed and reported (referred) to MOSH by other
Federal, State or local government agencies or their employees
(e.g., DHMH, DOT, local building inspectors, fire marshals,
etc.) are included in this category.
Such notifications are referrals when nongovernment
employees are exposed to the alleged hazards.
Reports by State and local government employees, their
supervisors, or their representatives of unsafe or
unhealthful working conditions within their own workplaces
and to which they are exposed shall, of course, continue to
be handled as complaints.
Media Reports. Reports in the media of accidents
involving serious injury or of potentially serious workplace
hazards shall be considered as referrals. "Reports"
shall be understood to include news items reported in the media
as well as hazards reported directly to MOSH by media source.
Thus newspaper or magazine articles, photographs or news items
reported over radio or television are examples of media reports
as well as calls to the Regional Offices by reporters.
Referral Inspections. Referral Inspections are unprogrammed
inspections and, except for complaints received from Discrimination
personnel, shall be forwarded to the MOSH Operations Office using
the OSHA-90 form.
Procedures. Each referral shall be evaluated as thoroughly as
possible in accordance with the guidelines for evaluating
complaints, to determine whether there are reasonable grounds to
believe that a safety or health hazard exists. If so, the hazard
shall be classified as imminent danger, serious or
other-than-serious. Referrals to be inspected shall be assigned a
priority by the MOSH Supervisor receiving the referral according to
the severity of the alleged hazard.
When the CO/IH observes an imminent danger situation, the MOSH
Supervisor shall be contacted immediately, if practicable.
Otherwise, an inspection shall be conducted without delay and
the MOSH Supervisor informed as soon as possible after the
inspection has been initiated. The MOSH Supervisor shall advise
the Compliance Manager of all imminent danger cases as soon as
If, after evaluation, the MOSH Supervisor determines that a CO/IH
referral from a safety and health agency should be classified as
other-than-serious, such a referral will be handled by letter in
accordance with the procedures for nonformal complaints and
returned to MOSH Operations.
Other government agency referrals of other-than-serious
conditions shall normally be handled by letter according to the
instructions for nonformal complaints.
For all referrals handled by letter, other than CO/IH referrals,
the following procedures apply:
A letter shall be sent to the employer whenever a name and
address is given in the referral or is obtainable with
reasonable effort. Letters similar to those used for
complaints shall be used for referrals. The most appropriate
letter shall be written in accordance with the particular
circumstances of the referral.
If no employer name or address is obtainable, the referring
party shall be notified by telephone of this fact and shall
be informed that MOSH can take no action without being
supplied with such information.
When a letter is sent to the employer, the procedures for
responding to nonformal complaints are applicable, except
that no tenth letter inspections shall be scheduled.
There can be extraordinary circumstances when the Assistant
Commissioner/Authorized Representative may decide that a
government agency referral identifies a hazard of such a
potentially serious nature that it warrants being placed in the
same inspection priority as media reports.
In the case of media reports, reasonable efforts to corroborate
the information contained in the report shall be made whenever
necessary. Specifically, the Compliance Manager, before
scheduling an inspection, shall determine if the incident is
related to an apparent serious violation of a standard. This may
be done by carefully reviewing the facts as reported by the
media or, when indicated by the particular circumstances, by
contacting a third party such as the police, the ambulance
service, or in rare cases, by calling the employer.
Media reports of other-than-serious hazards will not normally
require an agency response.
Except for referrals as noted in Nonformal Discrimination
Complaints, referrals will not normally result in an inspection
unless they involve potentially serious hazards. Consequently,
referrals scheduled for inspection shall be investigated within
3 working days from assignment date.
No letter of acknowledgement or follow-up communications with
the referring source will be necessary for referrals.
The scope of referral inspections shall be decided in accordance
with the guidelines for complaints.
A case file shall be set up for each referral as it is received.
This case file shall contain a copy of the completed OSHA-90
form, all documentation supporting the evaluation and
classification of the referral and subsequent action documents.
If an inspection is eventually performed, all of the material
will be absorbed into the inspection case file.