You're not likely to receive prior notice of an OSHA inspection, so you need to be prepared for the possibility of an inspector dropping by your site. This should include providing regular training for your employees and conducting a job safety analysis to identify and address potential risks and hazards. Doing so will help you to avoid violations and expensive fines.
Follow these tips so you won't be caught off guard for your next OSHA inspection.
1. Establish a Procedure
Have a procedure in place so that you'll know what to do when an inspector shows up. Establish who will meet the inspector and show them around your site or facility. If you have designated safety staff or employee representatives, they might want to join the inspection. But it's also not a good idea to have too many people involved. Keep the group to one or two, if possible.
Designate a meeting space for the opening and closing conference, such as a conference room or private office. Ask about the scope of the inspection when the inspector arrives and make sure that it will be possible to visit the necessary areas. During the walk through, take your own notes and photos so that you will have your own record of the inspection.
Also, be sure to check the inspector's ID. It's not unheard of for people to impersonate inspectors.
If you know what to do when an inspector arrives, it will help to alleviate some of the anxiety that can come along with a surprise OSHA inspection.
2. Have Records Accessible
The inspector is going to want to look at your records, so you should be able to easily plan accordingly. Having your documentation organized and readily available will only help you to put your best foot forward with the inspector, which can keep things moving along smoothly. It can be helpful to keep all safety information and illness or injury logs together to avoid needing to look in multiple places for what is requested, or worse, having the documents somewhere off-site.
The most important thing is to make sure you are keeping complete and accurate records. This is necessary not just for legal compliance, but for the well-being of everyone at your company. Try using a mobile forms solution or cloud storage database to keep things digital and searchable, which will save time and ensure that important paperwork is never lost.
3. Don't Avoid Questions
It's easy to worry about saying the wrong thing when doing a walk through with the inspector. But not answering the question, or deliberately withholding information will not play out in the long run. It's better to answer as honestly as you can, and if you don't know the answer to a question make an effort to find out.
This should extend to all other employees as well. No one should be instructed not to speak to the inspector. Cooperation is best. If you refuse, the inspector can get a subpoena, which will just make things worse.
4. Address Issues Quickly
If any citations are brought up during the inspection, take care of them as soon as possible, even immediately if you can. There is no need to wait until receiving an official citation. It's all about keeping everyone safe on the job and work moving forward, so be proactive and don't hesitate to fix a problem once you know it's there. You should also ask questions of the inspector so you can better understand what's required for abatement.
5. Provide Training
Keeping up with safety training and procedures should be an ongoing process, not just something that is done in order to meet compliance standards or in case of an OSHA inspection. Provide training for all employees and update safety materials regularly. Creating a culture of compliance and safety will help your company to avoid dangerous situations and costly delays.
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