OSHA Inspections: Proper Planning Helps Avoid Risks
Knowing what to expect from an OSHA inspection can make the experience less stressful. Here is a brief overview:
An inspector arrives at your facility during normal business hours, unless you are contacted prior to the visit. The inspector shows you his or her credentials issued by the U.S. Department of Labor, which authorize the inspection.
The inspector tells you why OSHA selected your company, explains why the inspection is taking place, and reviews with you the standards which apply to your industry. You must then select an employee to accompany the officer during the inspection. Having an assigned guide selected prior to an inspection will help make the inspection process more efficient and will also help avoid unnecessary delays.
The officer will then inspect your workplace. The agenda for the inspection and its length is at the discretion of the officer, although most compliance officers cause as little interruption to your workday as possible.
During the inspection: The officer will investigate working conditions and ask questions of employees. He or she may take photographs or record instrument readings relating to safety and health hazards, take environmental samples, request files recording deaths, injuries, and illnesses, or instances of possible exposure to toxic solutions or harmful agents.
If the officer points out an easily correctable hazard—like a puddle of oil on a walkway—correct it right away to demonstrate your concern and your cooperation. Your action may or may not avoid an official notation.
The officer will discuss findings, identifying any possible violations. Penalties cannot be discussed at this conference since only the OSHA area director sets penalties. Later, the officer will file a report with the area director. Any citations or penalties will be delivered to you via certified mail.
Inspections are stressful situations. But if you have done your homework, inspected your company regularly and taken steps to eliminate hazards, you have greatly increased the possibility of a good review.
Even if you never are officially inspected, self-evaluations may prevent accidents that will save you frustrating downtime, costly overtime, workers’ compensation claim costs, or even a potential lawsuit.
Are you prepared for an OSHA visit? If not, call Tony Scurich at 831-661-5697 to learn more about self-inspections and OSHA inspection criteria.
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