As a business owner or manager, it’s essential to understand the types of inspections conducted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA inspections help ensure that workplaces are safe and healthy for employees, and non-compliance can result in hefty fines and even legal action. This article will discuss the different types of OSHA inspections, what to expect during an inspection, and how to prepare your workplace for one.
What is OSHA Inspection?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a federal agency in the United States responsible for ensuring workers have safe and healthy working conditions. As part of their mission, OSHA conducts inspections to identify potential hazards and violations of OSHA standards that could put employees in danger.
What are OSHA Inspection Priorities?
When OSHA inspects, they prioritize certain workplaces based on risk factors. By doing this, they focus their efforts on high-risk workplaces, reducing the number of workplace injuries and illnesses. Some factors they consider include the industry type, the number of employees, past violations, complaints from workers or other sources, and imminent safety hazards. They aim to ensure that all employees have safe and healthy working conditions.
Types of OSHA Inspections
Understanding the different types of OSHA inspections and what to expect during an inspection can help prepare workplaces for compliance with OSHA standards, avoid costly penalties, and ensure the safety and health of employees. Let’s take a closer look at the five types of OSHA inspections:
1. Imminent Danger Inspections
OSHA investigators prioritize imminent danger inspections, which occur when a workplace has the potential to cause severe physical harm or death to employees. If an imminent danger is found, OSHA may request that the employer remove it immediately or remove all employees from the imminent danger area. Failure to comply may result in a citation and legal action.
2. Investigative Inspections
Conducted when there is reason to believe a violation has occurred, but it’s unclear what happened or which regulations were violated. OSHA compliance officers may interview witnesses or review documents related to the incident to determine if a violation occurred and what penalties should be imposed.
3. Fatality and Accident Inspections
These occur after a worker dies or becomes seriously ill or injured due to unsafe working conditions. The goal is to identify any violations that may have contributed to the fatality or illness and prevent similar incidents in the future.
4. Programmed Inspections
Planned visits from inspectors are sent proactively to workplaces to monitor compliance with safety regulations. This allows OSHA personnel to monitor workplaces regularly rather than waiting for employees to complain about unsafe conditions.
5. Follow-Up Inspections
These inspections occur after initial corrective actions have been taken following an investigation. Inspectors assess whether all required changes have been made to ensure ongoing future compliance.
What to Expect During an Inspection
An OSHA compliance officer will arrive at your workplace unannounced during an OSHA inspection and present their credentials. The compliance officer will conduct a walk-through of your workplace to identify potential hazards and violations of OSHA standards. The officer will also review your injury and illness records and speak with employees to better understand the workplace’s safety culture.
If violations are found, the compliance officer will discuss them with you and provide a citation outlining the violation and the proposed penalty. You can contest the citation, but if you do not, you must correct the violation by a specified deadline.
How to Prepare for an OSHA Inspection
To prepare for an OSHA inspection, ensuring that your workplace complies with OSHA standards is important. You should review the OSHA standards that apply to your industry and ensure that your workplace meets those standards. You should also develop and implement a safety and health program that includes employee training on workplace hazards and how to report them.
In addition, you should designate a point person who will be responsible for communicating with the OSHA compliance officer during the inspection. This person should be knowledgeable about OSHA standards and have access to all relevant documents, such as injury and illness records.
FAQs on Types of OSHA inspection
Q: Can I refuse to let an OSHA compliance officer enter my workplace?
A: No, you cannot refuse an OSHA inspection. OSHA compliance officers can enter any workplace covered by the OSH Act.
Q: Can I contest an OSHA citation?
A: You can contest an OSHA citation within 15 working days of receiving it.
Q: What happens if I don’t correct the violation by the specified deadline?
A: If you do not correct the violation by the specified deadline, you may be subject to additional penalties and legal action.
Conclusion: Types of OSHA Inspections: Everything You Need to Know
OSHA inspections are an important part of ensuring workplace safety and health. By understanding the types of inspections, what to expect during an inspection, and how to prepare for one, you can help ensure that your workplace complies with OSHA standards and avoid costly penalties and legal action.