VanAntwerp Attorneys, LLP
Phone: 606-618-0698

What to expect when OSHA is inspecting: Part One

Occupational Safety and Health Act inspections occur upon request or they can be unrequested. Regardless of the circumstances, employers need to know what to expect when OSHA representatives show up at their facility. Some are trained on safety hazards while others – industrial hygienists – focus on health hazards. Certain compliance officers handle both areas.

Inspections begin with a walkaround. Before it starts, the OSHA inspector may inquire about any unique dangers they may face during the conference. Employers must be ready to provide personal protective equipment, even if the inspectors end up bringing their own.

Inspectors will dictate how they will conduct the walkaround. During the inspection, compliance officers will take pictures and notes. They will also ask a variety of questions. Employers should also document the conference in writing and record the conversation.

Inevitably, inspectors will ask questions. The response should never be, “I don’t know.” Do not be afraid of saying something wrong. Equally as important, do not avoid the question. Rather, tell the compliance officer that the company will find the answer or have someone more knowledgeable respond to the inquiry.

Compliance officers may select certain employees for private, one-on-one interviews. The questions will likely not be complicated and employees should be encouraged to answer all questions truthfully.

Once the walkaround is completed, a closing conference will take place. Employers should know that the meeting in person or via teleconference will not necessarily occur on the same day. Discussions over the phone require emailing of photographs and other important materials to OSHA. A virtual conference also allows multiple people to attend, including managers at other worksites with similar hazards.

During the meeting, the compliance officer will summarize hazards found during the inspection, any possible citations, and the process to follow upon the issuance of citations. OSHA has six months after closing the inspection to file them.

Employers should not wait for the agency to take adverse actions. Being proactive allows them to directly follow up with OSHA and inform them that hazards identified during the conference were corrected.

For more information on OSHA inspections, contact the attorneys at VanAntwerp Attorneys, LLP, by calling 606-618-0698.

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