Understanding OSHA Inspections

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to provide a safe work environment for all employees. To maintain these regular standards, OSHA enforces compliance by conducting inspections. Employers, however, are generally unsure of what elements are covered in an OSHA inspection, the selection process, and how to prepare for an inspection.

Generally, OSHA inspections include four steps:

  • Opening/introduction conference
  • Thorough worksite walkthrough
  • Employee Interviews
  • Closing/conclusion conference

OSHA inspections are typically triggered by one or more scenarios and are typically not considered random. A business could draw the attention of OSHA by having multiple worker complaints filed against the business, multiple reports of severe illnesses or injuries, or the inspections could be programmed for organizations that fall under the OSHA emphasis program. Programmed inspections are regularly scheduled for organizations in “high hazard” industries like agriculture (i.e. cattle ranching, crop farming, forest nurseries, etc.), construction (i.e. framing, siding, land subdivisions, etc.), and manufacturing (i.e. food product manufacturing or animal slaughter), among others. However, non-programmed inspections will typically take priority over programmed inspections.

It is important to note that employers who show signs of imminent danger will take the lead in the inspection priority list. Imminent dangers include any working conditions or practices that could cause employee death or lead to serious physical harm. Other reasons a business may take priority for an OSHA inspection may include referrals from law enforcement or another government agency.

If your business is chosen for an OSHA inspection:

  • Check inspector credentials before allowing any non-employee on the worksite premises
  • Ensure management is notified upon the inspector’s arrival
  • Determine the purpose and scope of the inspection
  • Be prepared to prove compliance with any necessary documentation
  • Ask for a copy of any complaints that may have been submitted, specific to the inspection purpose.
  • Be clear and set ground rules for the inspection
  • Ensure all employees are fully cooperative, professional, and responsive when discussing any matters with the inspector(s)
  • If the inspector begins to document findings, take notes to review later

Inspections are completed by OSHA compliance safety and health officers. These officers have the authority to conduct the inspection, bring a specialist along for additional support/assistance, issue citations for noncompliance, obtain court-issued inspection warrants, and more. They are required to obey employer safety and health rules and practices for the business that is being inspected. This includes wearing appropriate personal protective equipment and necessary respirators.

Small businesses with fewer than 10 employees are exempt from programmed inspections, especially those in low-risk industries. These businesses are not exempt from triggered inspections. An additional trigger for small businesses could include a lost workday rate higher than the national average.

When it comes to OSHA, employee safety, and compliance, it doesn’t make sense to not be as honest and truthful as possible. Ensure your business is always taking the proper precautions, especially when safety is involved. Contact Insured Solutions to confirm the compliance of your business. It never hurts to have Insured Solutions in your corner.  

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