One of our previous contractor tips focused on how OSHA’s role in safety is evolving, but just knowing about safety doesn’t necessarily prepare you for an OSHA inspection. After multiple visits to jobsites and conversations with safety managers in the field, I’ve learned that everyone prepares for OSHA inspections but not with the same rigor that is absolutely necessary.
It’s no secret that the purpose of OSHA inspections is to gather information about how safely your company operates, but do you know exactly what inspectors are looking for during each visit and investigation? The last thing you need is a safety violation that halts your work and puts your workers in danger.
When an OSHA inspector performs a walk-around or inspection of your work site and facilities, they focus on the following priorities:
- Imminent Danger Situations: These are defined as hazards that could cause serious physical harm or death. These types of hazards must be corrected immediately or you run the risk of your jobsite being shut down and employees being removed from the area.
- Injuries and Illnesses: OSHA inspectors will survey your paperwork pertaining to illnesses and injuries reported by employees that may include hospitalizations and work-related fatalities and injuries.
- Worker Complaints: Any allegations of hazard violations are a top priority for OSHA inspectors. These complaints are often submitted anonymously directly to OSHA.
- Targeted Inspections: Many times, high-hazard workplaces and industries may be targeted for inspections. For example, if your workplace has a high rate of illnesses or injuries, OSHA classifies inspections as a top priority.
- Follow-Ups: OSHA inspections also prioritize follow ups to ensure previous cited violations have been rectified.
How to Prepare
Document. Document. Document. I cannot stress this enough. If you do not have the evidence required by OSHA, you are not prepared. Although paperwork may seem like a pain when you have so much work to do in the field, you are setting yourself, your employees and your company up for failure.
It’s crucial that you identify a representative from your company to coordinate with OSHA inspectors. Whether it’s the owner or the safety director, this individual should be responsible for interacting and escorting the inspector at each visit. Use this time to ask questions about your safety procedures and really determine how you can improve the safety of your work site for your employees. Have a Plan B just in case the appointed individual is not on-site. Training comes into play here. Educate as many employees as possible on safety procedures and the inner workings of OSHA inspections. All this not only ensures that you are implementing safe procedures, but also presents a message to OSHA that you take what they are doing seriously. This only helps to improve your company’s position in the eyes of OSHA.
Remember that everyone has the same goal – you, your workers and OSHA inspectors. You want to operate a safe work environment, have the know-how to operate equipment accurately and establish a productive space.