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OSHA loses appeal on search warrant for poultry processing facility

Court of Appeals upholds district court’s decision citing lack of reasonable suspicion

Posted October 12, 2018

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals recently upheld a lower court’s decision to quash OSHA’s judicially-issued inspection warrant for a Georgia-based poultry processing facility.

In February 2016, OSHA sent an inspection team to the facility based on a reported injury involving electrical work. The inspection team, however, requested to inspect not only the hazards involved in the incident, but the entire facility. While the facility consented to the incident investigation and provided its OSHA 300 Logs, it refused to permit inspection of any additional areas or hazards.

The Agency concluded that the OSHA 300 Logs suggested violations in six areas common to poultry processing, and in March 2016 sought a judicial warrant to inspect the facility. While the warrant initially was granted, it was quashed after the facility appealed. OSHA was told it could submit a new warrant application with a reduced scope; instead, the Agency chose to appeal the decision.

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the district court’s decision, stating the contents of the OSHA 300 Logs failed to create reasonable suspicion. The Court ruled OSHA may file a new application for a warrant to inspect based on the potential violations.

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