OSHA Visits: What to Expect when You’re Inspected

inspectionAn OSHA inspection can seem like an intrusive and intimidating prospect for most site managers, but knowing the process can go a long way to making these visits productive and seamless. OSHA prioritizes its visits for those sites which pose the most imminent threat of danger or perhaps following an employee complaint. In either case, there are certain protocols to expect.

Although OSHA can conduct inspections without advance notice, employers may require compliance officers to obtain an inspection warrant before entering the worksite. Inspectors are required to present credentials, including both a photograph and a serial number. Inspectors are also required to explain why the site has been selected for an inspection. In addition, if the officer is performing an inspection due to a written complaint from an employee, he or she is required to provide a copy of this complaint.

A broad outline of an OSHA visit includes the following:

Records Review

  • An OSHA inspector will typically ask for OSHA 300 logs, Safety Committee meetings and quarterly safety committee inspections.

Walk-around inspection

  • During a walk-around inspection, an OSHA representative will accompany a designated employee/manager to investigate work processes and note any hazard areas such as walking/working surfaces, fire safety, hazardous materials storage and handling, confined space entry, machine guarding, lockout/tagout, electrical equipment, power tools, and welding equipment — for appropriate management and any necessary improvements. Pictures may be taken. Inspectors may also monitor noise, air and might pose a safety hazard.

Employee interviews

  • An OSHA inspector may interview employees to determine job duties, their awareness of the hazards of their work, and what training they have to work safely. Management is not permitted to be present for employee interviews unless specifically requested by the employee.

Closing conference 

  • During the closing conference, the inspector will present a summary of his/her findings and will discuss estimated times for correction. Citations are not issued immediately following an inspection, rather they are sent in the mail (no later than 6 months after the inspection.) once the inspector discuss its findings with the OSHA Area Director and final decisions have been taken.

It is important to know that minor items identified during the inspection that are corrected on the spot are not typically citations. Imminent danger situations, however, are required to be corrected immediately or employees may be required to be removed from the hazardous situation.

In some cases, it is also protocol for OSHA to conduct follow-up inspections—checks for abatement of violations cited during previous inspections.

Above all, a strong safety management program is the first line of defense when it comes to sailing through an OSHA inspection. Cooperation, compliance and planning are the cornerstones to taking the mystery and stress out of these visits. For all your construction safety concerns, contact Diversified Safety Services.



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