What To Do When An OSHA Inspector Knocks On Your Door

First of all, it is never a good idea to request a warrant when an OSHA inspector arrives onsite. Even though we’ve heard some lawyers advise this, the professional advice has been not to consider it. That said, the inspector should be politely asked for their credentials, and to wait while whoever let him/her/them in calls the list of your internal contacts. This list should be accessible and current, as should be the procedures to be followed by the internal stakeholders when contacted.

Companies will not be given advance notice of an OSHA inspection. The exceptions to this rule occur when notification would allow the correction of an imminent danger or would facilitate the purposes of the inspection.

The inspection begins with an opening as well as a closing conference. During the opening conference, the inspector(s) will inform you of the purpose of the inspection. They may ask for a facility drawing and any records they want to review.

OSHA conducts 5 general types of inspections:  

1.     imminent danger which could reasonably be expected to cause death or serious physical harm;  

2.     fatality/catastrophe – following a reportable incident; 

3.     when there has been an employee complaint or referral made; and 

4.     programmed-randomly based on a targeting system that considers the nature of the industry and the history of the employer; and 

5.     follow-up monitoring when there is insufficient evidence that all previously cited items have been abated or to monitor lengthy abatement process. 

Before discussing a few tips, it is first essential to cultivate your safety program to ensure, 

  • That your employees feel safe and healthy
  • That your employees know they are valued as well as cared for
  • A safe and healthy work environment

This takes more than a ‘safety 1st’ sign. However, with that safe and sound foundation, you do not have much concern if OSHA knocks on your door.  However, below are a few high-level tips to consider if not already included in your safety policy regarding ‘what to do if an OSHA inspector knocks’:

  • Ensure that whoever is at the entrance knows what to do and has a list of stakeholders to call.
  • Designated stakeholders need to invite the inspector(s) to a room for the opening conference.
  • Determine the reason for the inspection and if for a specific complaint or area, you can limit other work area observations when you walk them to the area.
  • Always be respectful and courteous.
  • Remain with the inspector during the walkthrough.
  • Do not limit the purpose of their inspection or who the inspector(s) talk with.  They should talk freely as well as privately to employees and managers.
  • When the inspector(s) take pictures, you should take a picture at a similar angle as theirs. Also, you should take parallel notes when they note an observation.
  • Whenever possible, immediate action should be taken to correct a finding. There still may be a citation but good faith efforts go a long way.
  • Only answer what you are asked without volunteering additional information. Do not argue or become defensive.

The closing conference will provide additional information on findings, violations, and possible citations. If you haven’t already started to make corrections found, be prepared to address any citations as soon as the notice arrives. Note the day and time it arrives and immediately begin taking remedy steps to meet the allotted abatement period.

OSHA Standards are minimal safety requirements. Yes, compliance is important, but companies ensuring a safe and sound work environment go above and beyond these requirements. Such companies have nothing to worry about and lots to learn from OSHA inspections.  

Contact us to discuss your OSHA inspection policy as well as options for a safe and sound workplace; what a safe and sound workplace could look like – FEEL like – within your organization! No amount of safety posters or ‘safety 1st’ signs will make a difference without this.

Photo by Mufid Majnun on Unsplash

Turn insight into action

Get a full-scale analysis of your business and recommended solutions.

error: Content is protected !!