Our last blog discussed how to prepare for an OSHA inspection with 8 essential tips to follow.
This blog will cover the three stages of an OSHA inspection.
- Opening conference
- Facility walk-through
- Closing conference.
While the likelihood of an OSHA inspection is low for most businesses, being aware of what happens during the inspection, and being prepared, will help you have a safer workplace.
Most OSHA inspections begin with an unannounced opening conference by a compliance officer. The purpose of an opening conference will outline the scope of the inspection, which may include interviews with employees. Employees have the right to request that interviews to be private or conducted with managers present. Be sure to take good notes of all matters discussed at the opening conference.
Facility Walk Through
After the opening conference, the inspector will walk through the facility, taking notes, and photographs. The actual inspection of the workplace is the most critical phase of OSHA's inspection. Management should have at least one representative accompany the inspector. In many cases, all of OSHA's evidence as to whether a violation exists results from the efforts of the inspector during the walk around inspection.The management representative(s) should note and record everything the OSHA inspector notes and records. All conversations during the OSHA inspection should be documented. If the inspector takes photographs, then the management representative should duplicate these photographs with their own camera. Document everything the OSHA compliance officer inspects, notes or photographs. Do not assume that anything is unimportant.
At the conclusion of the inspection, the inspector will hold a closing conference with company representatives to discuss the observed violations. Don't be afraid to ask questions: What specific standards are being cited? Why? What is the classification (serious, repeat, etc.)? How much is the penalty? Often, the inspector will not commit to the classification or the penalty, claiming that the final determination is up to his or her boss. It never hurts to ask. Make sure to take good notes at the closing conference. Typically citations are mailed to the employer several days after the closing conference. All citations must be issued within six months of the start of the inspection.