How to Prepare for an OSHA Inspection

OSHA provides valuable information on why an inspection happens, what to do to prepare, the stages of the inspection, fines, and penalties, and your rights. You can download the Data Sheet here.

Below we’ve provided an overview of the information provided:

OSHA inspectors, called compliance safety and health officers, are experienced, well-trained industrial hygienists and safety professionals whose goal is to assure compliance with OSHA requirements and help employers and workers reduce on-the-job hazards and prevent injuries, illnesses, and deaths in the workplace.

Normally, OSHA conducts inspections without advance notice. Employers have the right to require compliance officers to obtain an inspection warrant before entering the worksite.

OSHA has jurisdiction over approximately 7 million worksites. The agency seeks to focus its inspection resources on the most hazardous workplaces in the following order of priority:

  1. Imminent danger situations—hazards that could cause death or serious physical harm receive top priority. Compliance officers will ask employers to correct these hazards immediately or remove endangered employees.
  2. Severe injuries and illnesses—employers must report:
    • All work-related fatalities within 8 hours.
    • All work-related inpatient hospitalizations, amputations, or losses of an eye within 24 hours.
  3. Worker Complaints—allegations of hazards or violations also receive a high priority. Employees may request anonymity when they file complaints.
  4. Referrals of hazards from other federal, state or local agencies, individuals, organizations or the media receive consideration for inspection.
  5. Targeted inspections—inspections aimed at specific high-hazard industries or individual workplaces that have experienced high rates of injuries and illnesses also receive priority.
  6. Follow-up inspections—checks for abatement of violations cited during previous inspections are also conducted by the agency in certain circumstances.

OSHA Penalties

Per the OSHA website, below are the maximum penalty amounts, with the annual adjustment for inflation, that may be assessed after Jan. 15, 2020.

Type of Violation Penalty
Serious Other-Than-Serious Posting Requirements $13,494 per violation  
Failure to Abate $13,494 per day beyond the abatement date
Willful or Repeated $134,937 per violation

Preparing for An OSHA Inspection   

The Safety and Health Magazine website provides an in-depth article on steps to take to prepare for an OSHA inspection.  

 There are three main components of an OSHA inspection:

  • An opening conference. The opening conference is a brief meeting during which the OSHA inspector will explain the purpose of the inspection.
  • A worksite “walkaround” The walkaround is the actual inspection.
  • A closing conference.

Opening Conference—The compliance officer will explain why OSHA selected the workplace for inspection and describe the scope of the inspection, walkaround procedures, employee representation, and employee interviews.

Walkaround—Following the opening conference, the compliance officer and the representatives will walk through the portions of the workplace covered by the inspection, inspecting for hazards that could lead to employee injury or illness.

Closing Conference—After the walkaround, the compliance officer holds a closing conference with the employer and the employee representatives to discuss the findings.

Learning About the Results

When an inspector finds violations of OSHA standards or serious hazards, OSHA may issue citations and fines. OSHA must issue a citation and proposed penalty within six months of the violation’s occurrence. Citations describe OSHA requirements allegedly violated, list any proposed penalties, and give a deadline for correcting the alleged hazards. Violations are categorized as willful, serious, other-than-serious, de minimis, failure to abate, and repeated.

Know Your Rights

If you do receive a citation or fine, keep in mind, you do have the right to an appeal. When OSHA issues a citation to an employer, it also offers the employer an opportunity for an informal conference with the OSHA Area Director to discuss citations, penalties, abatement dates, or any other information pertinent to the inspection.

How We Can Help

The defense of an OSHA inspection is a good offense. This means making sure your job sites are adhering to all the OSHA safety compliance requirements. Keep in mind, the highest percentage of inspections results from work-related to imminent danger situations—hazards that could cause death or serious physical harm.

These jobs can include numerous situations so it’s best to train and prepare your workers for any instance. Falls, back-ups, trenches, cranes, are but a few instances that proper training can help reduce the risk of serious injury or death.

If you want to keep your workers safe and avoid OSHA penalties and fines, we offer numerous training programs to choose from.

We also offer an Annual Safety and Compliance Program focused on 6 main areas to help you decrease workplace hazards and increase profits.

The Annual Safety and Compliance Program consists of:

1.            16 Hours – Initial Risk Assessment

2.            Job Hazard Assessment

3.            Development of Corporate Health & Safety Plan

4.            Safety Compliance Auditing, Inspections and Reporting

5.            Employee Training: OSHA or Applicable

6.            Corporate Health & Safety Management Support

Get started today with a Risk Assessment or contact us at: 877-399-1698