Few things incite as much concern or stress as an OSHA inspection, but in order to remain a recognized and respected leader in your company’s industry, passing an inspection with limited, or ideally no, citations is obviously the best strategy. Oddly enough, at All-Star Personnel we have seen many employers who don’t know what to expect when it comes to handling or preparing for an inspection. So when Health and Safety arrives, here’s what you should do to make sure you meet or exceed their expectations, and do your best to keep employees and clients safe in the workplace.
Existing Health and Safety Programs
Obviously, in order to avoid penalties, your company needs to have established and tested safety programs in place. Employee training programs to promote workplace health and safety are critical, as are reporting mechanisms and post-inspection responses. Make sure your programs are defensible and do the best-possible job of preparing your staff for accidents on the job. Keep in mind that while preparing for the worst can seem like a burden – especially when the likelihood of an accident happening is relatively low – the risk of losing staff and paying heavy penalty fees and insurance hikes due to your company’s negligence is not a risk worth taking.
While OSHA cannot audit each and every one of the 7 million workplaces that fall under its jurisdiction within a calendar year, that doesn’t mean you can skate by under the radar. OSHA inspectors focus on various workplaces by a certain order of priority. At the top of their list are situations of imminent danger, or hazards that could cause death or serious harm to employees (which are often reported by the employees themselves). Secondly, OSHA looks closely at incidents involving fatalities or the hospitalization of three or more employees. Companies are required to report such catastrophes to OSHA within eight hours of any such incident.
Complaints and referrals are the next highest priority for inspectors, followed by follow-ups to previous inspections, and planned inspections within high-hazard industries. If your company falls within any of these categories, you should place extra emphasis on building a high-quality safety program to protect your employees, as well as your bottom line.
Different Types of Inspections
OSHA compliance officers may opt to conduct an inspection by phone or fax for low-priority hazards with permission of the arbitrator. These phone interviews require an employer to fully describe workplace safety or health concerns, as well as the protocol set in place to address these concerns. Most inspections, however, take place onsite by an OSHA compliance officer.
The Inspection Process
In preparation for an inspection, inspecting officers research the inspection history of a work site, review the operations and processes in use – as well as the health and safety standards that apply. The inspection itself begins with an officer’s presentation of their credentials, where the inspector will share a photograph and serial number identifying them as an operative of the agency, followed by an opening conference where the reasoning behind the inspection will be explained. A walkthrough and closing conference will complete the process of an onsite inspection, after which the results of the inspection will be shared with the company within six months of the inspection date. Appeals to citations are possible, and allow the employer an opportunity to discuss their concerns with an OSHA Area Director to dispute or discuss penalties.
Keep in mind that the proper preparation for such inspections includes creating a reasonably safe workplace and providing staff with the training they need to prepare, should the worst occur. This alone will provide you with the confidence you’ll need to weather an inspection with assurance.
At All-Star Personnel, we pride ourselves on the quality of our employees and feel our greatest resource is our past, present and future employees. Contact All-Star Personnel today, to work with one of the top staffing agencies in Tennessee.