OSHA inspections are never made on a friendly note. While their visit may result in a positive outcome in the end, such inspections are almost always prompted because of a worksite catastrophe, fatality or complaint. While there are referral inspections, random inspections and even follow-up inspections, these activities are typically kept at a minimum. Moreover, as certain states follow different guidelines and standards, OSHA inspections may be more or less common in your region than others. Regardless, it’s important that you take the necessary steps in order to ensure your company’s readiness for an OSHA inspection at any given time.
The key to ensuring your company’s readiness for an OSHA inspection is to maintain your preparedness at all times. Some companies may never have to undergo such an inspection, while others may find themselves in the crosshairs of OSHA on a regular basis. Regardless of your situation, enforcing a comprehensive safety program on a day-to-day basis at your workplace is critical to achieving a positive OSHA inspection. If your company is preparing for a follow-up inspection, make sure that you’ve corrected any violations or issues that were previously noted.
Designate a Representative
Managing an OSHA inspection can be incredibly stressful and confusing. Because of this, it’s important to designate a company representative who will handle OSHA relations. You’ll want to do this ahead of time to avoid being caught unprepared by the inspection, especially since the representative will be in charge of communicating directly with OSHA’s compliance officer. Employers are free to choose any member of their staff to serve as a representative, but it’s important to designate an employee who is experienced, knowledgeable and successful in their day-to-day role.
Communicating With OSHA
Prior to the start of any inspection, OSHA’s compliance officer will typically conduct an opening conference. This presents you or your company’s representative with a great opportunity to communicate and even control the flow of information to OSHA, but take care not to misrepresent or hide any information. Not only can this be harmful to your workforce as well as your company, it could result in significant fines if OSHA determines that you were trying to cover up any shortcomings. Keep in mind that OSHA compliance officers are also required to complete the initial employee orientation process when entering a new workplace, so you’ll want to be prepared for that as well.
Access to Paperwork
OSHA inspectors will almost always request access to specific records or documents, including injury reports, illness logs and related information. As such, you should always make sure that this information is readily available and organized at all times. Failure to produce such records in a timely manner may result in additional infractions, penalties or future inspections.
However, depending on your location and industry, some documents may not be required. Because of this, you should always take care when handing over sensitive records or documents. If an inspector or compliance officer asks for documents that are not required, you have the right to deny their request.
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