Are You Ready for an OSHA Inspection?

Facing an OSHA inspection can be a tense, overwhelming prospect for any employer. However, PSM can help you be prepared and assist you through the process, including providing template materials and additional consulting on required training and postings. Get a head start with the information below. You will be much better prepared to respond appropriately and to protect your legal rights!

Possible reasons for the inspection

Common reasons for an inspection can include:

  • Employee complaint(s)
  • A recent accident (typically a fatality, or three or more employees hospitalized as a result of the same accident, will trigger an inspection)
  • A “General Schedule” inspection, which results in random selection from a list of companies with high hazard SIC codes

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What to do when the inspector arrives at the door

When the inspector arrives at the door, don’t panic! Do the following:

  • Ask to see credentials (if the inspector does not offer them first)
  • Inquire as to the reason for the visit (if the inspector does not volunteer the information). The inspector is required to provide the reason for the inspection and associated documentation. Note that in the case of an employee complaint, the inspector is not required to provide the name of the employee.
  • Contact senior management and strategize. The inspector is required to wait a “reasonable amount of time” to allow for this.
  • Feel free to contact us to help strategize as well.
  • Determine the scope of the inspection. If the inspector is allowed to view areas that go beyond the accident site or hazards identified in a complaint, the company is subject to citations for anything the inspector observes because you allowed it. Anything in “plain view” is subject to citation.

You can require the inspector to obtain a search warrant before proceeding with the inspection. (This should be carefully considered and weighed before choosing this course of action.)

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What the inspector will ask for first

If the inspector is there as a result of a complaint or to investigate an accident, he or she will focus his questions and inspection around those specific areas. In the case of a General Schedule Inspection, he or she will typically ask for the following items before beginning the walkaround:

  • OSHA logs for the last 2-3 years (we provide these each year, but please contact us immediately if you need copies)

  • Training records for various programs, including Hazard Communication (Right to Know), Personal Protective
  • Equipment (PPE), Lockout Tagout, etc.

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What to do during the “walkaround”

Be prepared for the inspector to request interviews with management and non-management employees. Employees need to be honest during these interviews. Employees do have the following rights:

The right to request a one-on-one interview with the inspector. (This is a protected conversation and the employee cannot be retaliated against for such an interview.)

  • The right to refuse the interview
  • The right to have a person of their choice attend the interview
  • The right to end the interview at anytime without reason
  • The right to refuse being recorded or photographed

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What happens after the inspection

The inspector will hold a formal conference at the end of the walkaround to discuss the findings, courses of action, and how to contest any citations. (You also have the opportunity to attend an informal conference to discuss citations, penalties, and abatement dates.)

OSHA must issue any citations within 6 months of the violation occurrence. Some things you should know about violations and penalties:

  • Violations are categorized as non-serious, serious, or willful.
  • Penalties can be up to $7,000 for each serious violation, and up to $70,00 for each willful violation.
  • Penalties can be reduced based on actions taken by the employer, and the company’s safety history.
  • You have 15 days after receiving the citations to formally contest the alleged violations.

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PSM Can Assist You

We can provide template materials and additional consulting on required training and postings. Clients covered on our master Liberty Mutual policy may also have access to Risk Management and advice through Liberty Mutual Risk Management division.

If you are concerned about potential violations or want to make sure your training and documentation for safety activities are appropriate, don’t hesitate to email Scott Tant or call him at (317) 816-7007.

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Posted in: HRvest
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The information contained in this article was obtained from sources that to the best of our knowledge are authentic and reliable. Fortune Industries makes no guarantee of results, and assumes no liability in connection with either the information herein contained, or the safety suggestions herein made. Moreover, it cannot be assumed that every acceptable safety procedure is contained herein, or that abnormal or unusual circumstances may not warrant or require further or additional procedures. Mention of any product, service or company is not an endorsement from Fortune Industries.