Handling Unannounced Environmental Regulatory Inspections

Agents from environmental regulatory agencies may show up at your project site without prior notification.  Environmental regulatory agents are trained to their rights and limitations when stepping foot on a job site. It is equally important that workers are educated on what rights they have, and site managers also need to understand how to manage the inspection process.

Should agents from any local (county, city), state, or federal (EPA) governmental agency appear on your project and ask to conduct an inspection or review documents, please do the following:

Be courteous and professional

  • Fully cooperate with all regulatory agents while maintaining your rights to ensure inspections are lawful and to have agents accompanied by appropriate company representatives.  Request that the agents refrain from conducting their inspection until you contact your appropriate company official (Project Manager, NPDES Administrator, etc.) who can be present at the inspection.

Make the Call

  • Call your company representative(s). Inform them that agents from a regulatory agency (mention which one) are on your site requesting an inspection and/or review of documents.
  • The appropriate company representative should make every effort to arrive on the project to accompany the regulatory agency personnel.

Whether walking or waiting, be careful what you say

  • Refrain from answering any specific questions until the Project Manager and/or NPDES Administrator arrives.
  • Most important, do not speculate. Be strictly factual in any information you provide.
  • It is acceptable to say, “I do not know the answer to that question. I will forward it to the appropriate person for a response.”

If the agent won’t wait

  • Request identification from the agent(s). Get their business card(s).
  • Alert the Project Manager and/or the NPDES Administrator to inform them that the inspection is taking place without them present.
  • Ask if they will be conducting a general inspection or are responding to a specific issue.
  • Accompany them and take notes concerning what is inspected and/or reviewed.
  • Write down any questions that they ask.
  • If the agent takes photos, ensure you take similar photos for your own records.
  • Document any search for items (inspection reports, plans, BMPs, specific areas, etc) that could not be located.
  • Do not interfere with the inspection or review.
  • Confirm contacts and procedures for follow-up.

It is important to remember that the regulatory agents are constantly building a case against your company. They probably began before stepping on your job. So, it is extremely important to begin building your case during this process as well. If your company needs assistance when a regulatory agent shows up, please Contact HB NEXT. If your company receives a citation from the EPD, EPA, or has any disputes with an adjacent landowner, HB NEXT has a variety of Legal Services to aid you.

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