Established in 1971, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is dedicated to protecting workers’ safety and health. OSHA carries out its mission by providing training, outreach, education, and assistance. OSHA originated from the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. This act was passed to prevent workers from being killed or seriously harmed at work. The OSH Act of 1970 requires employers to provide safe work environments for employees.
According to statistics released the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), fatalities in the workplace have been reduced by more than 65% since OSHA’s inception. In addition, occupational related injuries and illnesses have declined by 67%. OSHA is responsible for the health and safety of 130 million workers employed at more than 8 million work sites across the country. In order to monitor employee health and safety, OSHA employs 2,200 inspectors nationwide. This means each inspector is responsible for approximately 59,000 workers. Understandably, inspectors are not able to visit every work site. They prioritize inspections based on fatalities/catastrophes, imminent danger, and work sites with employee complaints. This article will provide basic tips on how to survive an OSHA inspection.
Most times, OSHA inspections are spontaneous. A healthy and safe workplace should be a part of your daily focus. Your workplace should operate under the assumption that an inspection will occur every day. Everyone in the work environment should take responsibility for health and safety. A well-trained member of management or safety professional should always be available to handle OSHA business as well as other health/safety concerns.
Know Your Rights
You should become informed on your rights as an employer in regards to OSHA inspections. Also, you need to become familiar with your company policies and make certain you are up to date on policy changes.
Purpose of the Inspection
The overall purpose of the inspection should be clear upfront. Inspection documents presented by the OSHA official should be reviewed. You must carefully review all information regarding the purpose of the inspection so that you can make sensible decisions on how to move forward with the process.
Accompany the OSHA Representative
You would never allow a stranger to roam your property unaccompanied. You should never allow an inspector to roam through your business unaccompanied. The OSHA representative should be accompanied at ALL times.
You should take accurate notes and document the entire visit. You should also always have supplies handy. It is imperative you document the same things as the inspector. You must take the same measurements and photographs as the OSHA inspector.
Limited Information Distribution
You should only respond to questions the inspector asks. Do not provide unnecessary information. For recordkeeping purposes, you should maintain an OSHA file. Provide the inspector with only the documents he/she requests. Never distribute documents without consulting your management team.
You must always remain composed and professional. OSHA inspections are challenging and sometimes intimidating. You should remain confident and maintain control of the situation.