Surviving an OSHA Inspection

Safety managers throughout the country work to prevent incidents, minimize injuries and prevent disruption in company production.

According to OSHA’s Factsheet, normally, OSHA conducts inspections without advance notice. Employers have the right to require compliance officers to obtain an inspection warrant before entering the worksite.

OSHA inspectors, called compliance safety and health officers, are experienced, well-trained industrial hygienists and safety professionals whose goal is to assure compliance with OSHA requirements and help employers and workers reduce on-the-job hazards and prevent injuries, illnesses, and deaths in the workplace.

The manager should do the following:

  • Verify the CSHO’s credentials: Look at his or her ID and business card. There have been rare cases of people impersonating a CSHO. All CSHOs will have a government-issued ID and business cards;
  • Determine why the CSHO wants to inspect your workplace, i.e. complaint, accident, programmed, imminent danger, follow-up: You will play a key role in assisting the CSHO conduct the inspection. If you know the scope of the inspection soon after the CSHO arrives, that will be much easier. It also is important to have time to get all responsible parties within the company notified and present; and
  • Tell the CSHO that it is your company policy to contact your management prior to starting the inspection: Have the CSHO wait while you are making phone calls. At this point, you have not given the CSHO permission to inspect your workplace, so he or she should wait until the proper managers arrive. There is no set time the CSHO is required to wait. Keeping the wait as short as possible will begin to build a relationship that will be important throughout the inspection.

When OSHA issues a citation to an employer, it also offers the employer an opportunity for an informal conference with the OSHA Area Director to discuss citations, penalties, abatement dates, or any other information pertinent to the inspection. The agency and the employer may work out a settlement agreement to resolve the matter and to eliminate the hazard.

OSHA’s primary goal is correcting hazards and maintaining compliance rather than issuing citations or collecting penalties.