Is Your Facility Ready for an OSHA Inspection?

Posted January 26, 2016

"OSHA rarely gives advance notice," reads one of the federal safety administration's own documents on inspections.

Even though the Occupational Safety and Health Administration conducts a scant 100,000 inspections of American job sites each year, employers should be prepared for the surprise visit of clipboard-toting federal workers.

It should be noted that there are a few instances when OSHA will give advance notice:

  1. Employees are threatened with immediate danger.
  2. The inspection must be held after business hours.
  3. Workers and management will likely not be on-site without notice.
  4. The OSHA Area Director has a good reason to believe the inspection will be better served by advance notice.

Given the surprise nature of most inspections, it behooves employers to have a plan in place, should OSHA inspectors come knocking.

Putting together a plan

The worse thing your company can do is not have an OSHA inspection plan in place. A plan should establish a person at your facility who will be accountable for escorting an OSHA inspector around the job site. Also, choose a meeting place for opening and closing discussions to happen. The representative should be permitted to attend these conferences. If your company has a union shop, the union contract may spell out who that representative must be.

Your organization should have a backup plan in place in case the designated individual is not present when an inspector arrives. This will mean training two workers on both safety procedures and how to tour an OSHA inspector around the facility.

The inspection itself

After the inspector arrives, he or she will explain what prompted the inspection, and how the inspection will take place. The length and intensity of the ensuing inspection will be determined by the reason an inspection was called for.

Any logs and records requested by an inspector must be provided in a reasonable amount of time, so make sure your records are both up-to-date and easily accessible. Inspectors say that an organized recordkeeping system gives a good impression. Conversely, missing or incomplete records can cause an OSHA inspector to widen the scope of their investigation.

Before a tour of facilities, make sure the inspector is aware of any safety hazards and they are outfitted with the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).  During a tour, company personnel should be prepared to answer all reasonable, relevant questions.

The inspector may also ask for one-on-one interviews with certain employees. These workers will be questioned on safety measures and procedures, so make sure your employees receive regular safety training.

Incidentally, if you're suspicious that the person who shows up isn't a genuine OSHA inspector, ask to see the person's identification. The ID should include the inspector's picture, name and office.  If you're still undecided about whether the inspector is who they say they are, call the regional OSHA office to check. Look up the phone number yourself; don't rely on a number supplied by the potential impostor.

At Ambassador, one of the leading employment firms in the South, we ensure our contract workers are doing their jobs safely through a constant dialogue with our clients. If your company is looking for a high-quality talent acquisition solution, contact us today!