OSHA secrecy?

March 19, 2009 by Ken Ward Jr.

I reported yesterday about Bayer filing its appeal of the citations and fines issued to it by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration over the August explosion that killed two Institute plant workers.

In the process, I asked OSHA officials for a copy of the “notice of contest” filed by Bayer’s lawyers. But the usually helpful OSHA regional spokeswoman, Leni Uddyback-Fortson, wouldn’t give it to me. She said OSHA policy was such documents were part of their “investigation file” and not released to the public or the press.

OK, I said, what exemption to the federal Freedom of Information Act allows you to keep that notice from the public? Leni kicked me upstairs to Diana Peterson, a top OSHA public affairs person in Washington, D.C.

I called her, and was told she’d get me an answer. So far, she hasn’t. This afternoon, she said she would have to get back to me, hopefully by tomorrow morning.

“I’m unable to give you a response today,” Peterson said. “I still have other people I need to talk with.”

If OSHA has a policy of not releasing these documents, shouldn’t the agency’s lawyers have figured out a long time ago what FOIA exemption they believe allows such a policy?

3 Responses to “OSHA secrecy?”

  1. […] OSHA Secrecy? Ward describes his attempt to obtain a copy of Bayer CropScience “notice of content.”  […]

  2. Reader says:

    You’re asking for information regarding an inspection/investigation. The information is not going to be available until the investigation is complete. Since when do you go to the police and ask them to give you all the information they have before they have even finished solving the crime? Lets use some common sense Gazette

  3. Ken Ward Jr. says:


    Actually, that’s not the case. The federal FOIA does not exempt all information about an ongoing inspection or investigation.

    Exemption 7 governing “law enforcement records” only allows such documents to be withheld to the extent that the production of such law enforcement records or information:
    A. could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings
    B. would deprive a person of a right to a fair trial or an impartial adjudication
    C. could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy
    D. could reasonably be expected to disclose the identity of a confidential source, including a state, local, or foreign agency or authority or any private institution which furnished information on a confidential basis, and, in the case of a record or information compiled by criminal law enforcement authority in the course of a criminal investigation or by an agency conducting a lawful national security intelligence investigation, information furnished by a confidential source
    E. would disclose techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions, or would disclose guidelines for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions if such disclosure could reasonably be expected to risk circumvention of the law, or
    F. could reasonably be expected to endanger the life or physical safety of any individual.

    Read about it at:

    But, after checking the IP address of this “Reader”, Sustained Outrage is glad to see that someone at OSHA’s Washington office is reading our blog.


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