Face OSHA Inspections Fearlessly

An OSHA inspector has just arrived at your place of business. How do you proceed?

How to Prepare for an OSHA Inspection

Being prepared to handle an OSHA inspection or investigation properly minimizes the employer’s exposure to liability and eliminates unnecessary anxiety surrounding the inspection. Of course, you should call Blakeman & Associates right away. If you are a Blakeman & Associates client, inform the inspector and ask that he wait until your Blakeman & Associates representative arrives. We will dispatch a consultant to be there and oversee the inspection.

If you ask, the OSHA compliance officer generally will tell you why he or she is there. If the inspection was triggered by an employee complaint, the company is entitled to an explanation as to the reason for the inspection and can ask for a copy of the complaint.

During the inspection process you should say as little as possible. The compliance officer will not only seek general information, but also may seek specific admissions concerning an employer’s knowledge of unsafe conditions. Be helpful and courteous, but watch out for questions designed to elicit knowledge of uncorrected hazards. Don’t volunteer information.

Records, such as accident reports, insurance company studies, and employee medical records should not be given to the compliance officer without the proper request procedures being followed. Employee medical records should be obtained by OSHA in compliance with a medical access order. The order must be posted so that the employee has a chance to object to the release of the records.

The next phase of the inspection is the walk-around. The company’s designated walk-around representative should be the facility’s safety officer, who should stay with the OSHA compliance officer at all times. If possible, two employer representatives should also be present to take detailed notes and/or photographs or videos if necessary.

The employer representatives should say as little as possible during the inspection. Any comments may be used against the employer in later citation proceedings and may compromise defenses available to the employer.

After the walk-around, the compliance officer will conduct a closing conference. He or she will describe any “apparent violations” to the company’s representatives and explain the company’s rights and responsibilities.

If you are issued a citation, it should be posted (with penalty amounts deleted) in the area cited, as well as where company notices normally are posted. Notify Blakeman and Associates immediately. The company may want to request an informal conference with the OSHA area director, depending on how the nature of the violations, the penalty classification, whether abatement is feasible, and the cost of abatement.

Remember the very best defense for an OSHA inspection is to have a good safety management program in place. Clearly defined safety procedures along with clearly communicated and consistently enforced rules is always the best policy for a safe and healthy workplace.

  • by admin
  • posted at 9:38 pm
  • March 25, 2013

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