OSHA’s authority covers more than 114 million workers across seven million worksites.
One of the ways the agency accomplishes its mission — to ensure the health and safety of workers — is to conduct inspections of the most hazardous workplaces.
The OSHA inspection process is prioritized as follows:
- Imminent danger situations
- Severe illnesses and injuries – such as fatalities, hospitalizations, amputations or losses of an eye
- Worker complaints
- Referrals – from agencies, individuals, organizations, or media
- Targeted inspections – such as specific high-hazard industries or individual workplaces with high rates of illnesses and injuries
- Follow-up inspections
Once OSHA schedules a workplace inspection, the process is basically the same across the board.
In preparation for the inspection, an OSHA Compliance Safety and Health Officer (CSHO) will:
- Research the worksite’s OSHA inspection history, operations and processes, and the applicable OSHA standards, and
- Gather appropriate personal protective equipment and testing instruments to measure potential hazards.
The Primary Phases of an OSHA Inspection
*Video created and published by OSHA
The inspection is then conducted in 3 primary phases:
- Opening conference
- Closing conference
The opening conference includes an introduction by the CSHO, covering the reason for the inspection, the scope of the inspection, and the process to be used during the inspection.
The typical process includes a workplace walk-around and private interviews with a reasonable number of employees. Representatives of the company, and if desired, employee representatives, are designated to accompany the CSHO throughout the inspection.
While walking around the workplace, the CSHO, accompanied by the company and employee representative(s), will inspect and evaluate the workplace for compliance with applicable OSHA standards.
For example, the officer may look to see if the required “OSHA Job Safety and Health: It’s the Law” poster is conspicuously displayed in commonly attended area. Also, if personal protective equipment (PPE) is provided to workers, the inspector will inquire about a respiratory protection program. Noise levels and airborne concentrations of contaminants may also be measured.
OSHA’s CSHO may privately ask workplace employees if they are aware of any persons being injured on the job. They may also ask if the employees have any suggestions for making their working conditions safer.
A closing conference is then held to review and discuss the OSHA inspection findings.
Even if some violations were found during the walk-around and corrected immediately, the OSHA compliance officer must include the findings in the closing conference and final report. Potential corrective procedures and reasonable timelines for correction of alleged violations, as well as available OSHA resources, are also discussed.
After an OSHA Inspection
A formal OSHA inspection report is prepared by the CSHO and sent to an OSHA area director.
The area director then makes decisions on citations, penalties, abatement dates, and other inspection-related information. If a violation is found, a “Citation and Notification of Penalty” will be issued to the employer.
Employers can request an informal conference or choose to formally contest any alleged violations, resulting fines and/or penalties. The details and timing of an employer’s responsibilities are outlined in OSHA Standard CFR Part 1903.19.
With a complainant’s permission, OSHA may decide to follow-up on low severity hazard complaints by contacting the complainant’s employer by telephone. Following a telephone investigation, an employer must respond to a subsequent fax from OSHA within five working days.
If the employer’s response satisfactorily addresses OSHA’s concerns, an on-site OSHA inspection is not likely to be conducted.
For more information about OSHA inspection procedures, compliance assistance resources such as training courses and no-cost confidential on-site consultations, visit OSHA.gov or call 800-321- OSHA (6742).
About Worksite Medical
In most cases, OSHA requires medical surveillance testing, and at no cost to employees.
Worksite Medical makes that program easier with mobile medical testing.
We conduct on-site respirator fit tests, as well as pulmonary function test and heavy metal lab work, right on your job site. We also keep accurate, easy-to-access medical records for your convenience. You’ll keep your employees at work, and stay ahead of OSHA inspections.
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Give us a call at 1-844-622-8633, or complete the form below to schedule an on-site visit or to get your free quote!