OSHA shows up at your door for a workplace inspection. What do you do? Well first of all, if you are a client of Helpside, you should give us a call. Here are some other things to know from SHRM, in case you find yourself in this situation.
As an employer you do have the right to refuse the OSHA inspection, but the inspector can get a warrant from a judge to grant them access, so it is probably not in your best interest to do so. Employers can ask the OSHA inspector to wait for a member of management or designated safety professional to arrive before entering the worksite. Work that can be observed from plain view such as construction on the building, an OSHA inspector can document violations they see without entering the property.
Having a good relationship with OSHA inspectors can help the inspections go smoothly. Designating a certain employee to manage the inspection and has an understanding of what the inspection entails and things to be aware of can help your company stay out of hot water.
Make sure you are courteous the inspector and find out the specific reason for the inspection. You will want to accompany the OSHA office though the worksite. Be sure to limit the inspection to the specific issue that prompted the visit. If an OSHA officer is there to inspect pipes, but attempts to do a wall to wall inspection, the employer can push back and try to limit the scope. It is best to carefully document everything the OSHA inspector is inspecting, in writing and by taking pictures. If you take the inspector to an area in your workplace where employees are required to wear hard hats, make sure to remember to have the inspector wear a hard hat too. This will show the inspector you are serious about safety. One thing to remember- anything that is said to the OSHA inspector, such as “I meant to fix that…” can be held against the company.
Interviews are sometimes conducted by an inspector. When nonsupervisory employees are interviewed, they can be interviewed in private. When employees in supervisory positions are interviewed, they do have a right to have legal counsel or a manager present, since they are speaking on behalf of the company. If a manager admits to a violation, it is equivalent to the company admitting to the violation. Having legal counsel present will help ensure all questions are clear and answered appropriately.
Being familiar with what to expect during an OSHA inspection and establishing a good relationship with the inspector will make the process easier. Being proactive with your safety procedures to prevent potential issues instead of waiting for an inspection can prevent a lot of headaches. Conducting routine inspections will help you find issues before they become a real issue.
The Helpside Safety Director can help you establish a safety inspection routine and give you tips on what an OSHA inspector may be looking for. If you are interested in learning more about the services available through our risk management department, contact Nick Baird at firstname.lastname@example.org or (801) 443-1090.