OSHA enforces their regulations primarily through compliance safety and health officers conducting inspections in workplaces. These inspectors are experienced and trained industrial hygienist professionals that assures compliance with OSHA requirements. OSHA states that the majority of inspections conducted without advanced notice.
Because there are more than seven million workplaces in OSHA’s jurisdiction, it is impossible for them to inspect every single one. Because of this, OSHA tries to focus their inspections on the most hazardous workplaces, and has outlined the order of priority as the following:
- Imminent danger situations
- Severe injuries and illnesses
- Worker complaints
- Targeted inspections
- Follow-up inspections
(OSHA prioritizes complaints based on severity and may conduct a phone or fax investigation when it comes to lower-priority hazards.)
Inspections will begin with the inspector presenting their credentials and lead into an opening conference. During this conference the inspector will explain the reason for the inspection and the procedures. Someone from the company will be selected to accompany the inspector on the tour. The tour consists of the inspector observing hazards and whether any violations are present. They may point out problems that can easily be corrected, although violation citations will still be issued for these instances. During this part of the inspection, the inspector will also look at worksite injury and illness records, assess the current health and safety program and talk with employees about their impressions of safety in the facility,
Finally, the inspection itself will wrap up with a closing conference. The inspector will inform the employer and representatives of the general findings the tour, and the employer will also learn the possible course of actions. In the next few weeks, the company will then receive citations and penalties, along with an explanation of the requirements and standards that were violated. The citations need to be posted in relevant areas until the problems are fixed.
Check out our infographic explaining the steps you should take in case of a surprise OSHA inspection!