Key Factors in OSHA Inspections

Source: Anna Bizon - 123RF

An employer’s attitude can play a significant role when an OSHA inspector pays a visit, according to an article in Safety + Health, the official magazine of the NSC.

So too can lack of cooperation and preparedness play important roles and influence OSHA inspectors.

According to the latest statistics, 8 million workplaces are under the jurisdiction of either OSHA or its State Plans, which together average nearly 73,000 annual inspections.

Several scenarios may trigger an investigation. Topping the priority list are imminent danger situations and fatalities, followed by (in descending order):

  • Severe injuries or illnesses;
  • Worker complaints;
  • Referrals of hazards from other federal, state or local agencies; individuals; organizations; or media outlets; and
  • Programmed inspections, including those that fall under an OSHA emphasis program.

The agency also targets for inspection establishments in certain high-hazard industries or workplaces that “have experienced high rates of injuries and illnesses.”

In October 2018, the agency brought back its Site-Specific Targeting Program and is using Form 300A data to craft its inspection lists for non-construction workplaces with 20 or more employees.

In addition to ensuring safety programs and training are in place, employers should make sure these things are documented.

This is especially true for any activity or equipment central to an employer’s industry, whether it’s machine guarding for manufacturing, powered industrial trucks in warehouses or fall protection for construction.

Experts advise employers to check the OSHA inspector’s credentials, which usually are presented before the inspection. If unsure, get the inspector’s information and call the local OSHA office or the Department of Labor Office of the Inspector General to confirm.

Cases of scammers posing as OSHA inspectors, going to worksites and requesting payment of a fine – something an OSHA inspector would never do – have been reported.