Administrative Code

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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 16. Labor And Employment
Agency 25. Safety And Health Codes Board
Chapter 60. Administrative Regulation for the Virginia Occupational Safety and Health Program

16VAC25-60-90. Release of information and disclosure pursuant to requests under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act and subpoenas.

A. Pursuant to the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) (§ 2.2-3700 et seq. of the Code of Virginia) and with the exceptions stated in subsections B through H of this section, employers, employees and their representatives shall have access to information gathered in the course of an inspection.

B. Interview statements of employers, owners, operators, agents, or employees given to the commissioner pursuant to § 40.1-49.8 of the Code of Virginia are confidential. Pursuant to the requirements set forth in § 40.1-11 of the Code of Virginia, individuals shall have the right to request a copy of their own interview statements.

C. All file documents contained in case files that are under investigation, and where a citation has not been issued, are not disclosable until:

1. The decision has been made not to issue citations; or

2. Six months has lapsed following the occurrence of an alleged violation.

D. Issued citations, orders of abatement, and proposed penalties are public documents and are releasable upon a written request. All other file documents in cases where a citation has been issued are not disclosable until the case is a final order of the commissioner or the court, except that once a copy of file documents in a contested case has been provided to legal counsel for the employer in response to a request for discovery, or to a third party in response to a subpoena duces tecum, such documents shall be releasable upon a written request, subject to the exclusions in this section and the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.

E. Information required to be kept confidential by law shall not be disclosed by the commissioner or by any employee of the department. In particular, the following specific information is deemed to be nondisclosable:

1. The identity of and statements of an employee or employee representative who has complained of hazardous conditions to the commissioner;

2. The identities of employers, owners, operators, agents, or employees interviewed during inspections and their interview statements;

3. Employee medical and personnel records obtained during VOSH inspections. Such records may be released to the employee or his duly authorized representative upon a written and endorsed request; and

4. Employer trade secrets, commercial, and financial data.

F. The commissioner may decline to disclose a document that is excluded from the disclosure requirements of the Virginia FOIA, particularly documents and evidence related to criminal investigations, writings protected by the attorney-client privilege, documents compiled for use in litigation, and personnel records.

G. An effective program of investigation and conciliation of complaints of discrimination requires confidentiality. Accordingly, disclosure of records of such complaints, investigations, and conciliations will be presumed to not serve the purposes of Title 40.1 of the Code of Virginia, except for statistical and other general information that does not reveal the identities of particular employers or employees.

H. All information gathered through participation in consultation services or training programs of the department shall be withheld from disclosure except for statistical data that does not identify individual employers.

I. All information gathered through participation in voluntary protection programs of the department pursuant to § 40.1-49.13 of the Code of Virginia shall be withheld from disclosure except for statistical data that does not identify individual employers and for the following:

1. Participant applications and amendments, onsite evaluation reports, and annual self-evaluations; and

2. Agency staff correspondence containing recommendations to the commissioner, approval letters, notifications to compliance staff removing the participants from the general inspection list, and related formal correspondence.

J. The commissioner, in response to a subpoena, order, or other demand of a court or other authority in connection with a proceeding to which the department is not a party, shall not disclose any information or produce any material acquired as part of the performance of his official duties or because of his official status without the approval of the Commissioner of Labor and Industry.

K. The commissioner shall disclose information and statistics gathered pursuant to the enforcement of Virginia's occupational safety and health laws, standards, and regulations where it has been determined that such a disclosure will serve to promote the safety, health, and welfare of employees. Any person requesting disclosure of such information and statistics should include in his written request any information that will aid the commissioner in this determination.

Statutory Authority

§§ 40.1-6 and 40.1-22 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR425-02-95 § 2.8, eff. July 1, 1994; amended, Virginia Register Volume 22, Issue 25, eff. September 21, 2006; Volume 29, Issue 5, eff. December 5, 2012; Volume 34, Issue 6, eff. December 15, 2017.

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