Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (the Act), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is authorized to conduct workplace inspections and investigations to determine whether employers are complying with standards issued by the agency for safe and healthful workplaces. Workplace inspections and investigations are conducted by OSHA compliance safety and health officers who are safety and health professionals trained in the disciplines of safety and industrial hygiene.
The following checklist can help a company prepare for an inspection by OSHA, and suggests actions to take during the inspection and in follow-up.
- Verify the identity of the OSHA officer by asking to see their official credentials. If there is any doubt the person is a compliance officer, call the nearest OSHA office for verification.
- Ask the OSHA officer what prompted the visit. Was it an accident, a complaint, or a general scheduled inspection?
- Be cooperative and inform the officer that the company policy is to notify the main office when an OSHA officer arrives on the site.
- Inform top management an OSHA officer is at the workplace/jobsite to make an inspection/investigation.
- Make sure that authorized representatives (management and employees) accompany the OSHA officer during the inspection.
- Be aware that the compliance officer determines the route and duration of the inspection.
- Request copies of any pictures, test results, or measurements taken by the OSHA inspector.
- Take recommended corrective action immediately to show the OSHA officer a desire to cooperate.
- Answer only questions that are asked. Never volunteer any information during the inspection.
- Never argue with the OSHA officer and always be courteous and polite.
- Take detailed notes at the closing conference, which will be held after the inspection, at which time all items observed during the inspection will be discussed and an abatement date will be set.
- Be sure the officer lists and indicates all apparent violations for which a citation and a proposed penalty may be issued or recommended. The OSHA Area Director determines whether citations will be issued and whether penalties are proposed via certified mail.
- Post a copy of each citation at or near the place the violation occurred for three days, or until the violation is abated, whichever is longer.
States administering their own occupational safety and health program, through plans approved under section 18(b) of the Act, must adopt standards and enforce requirements that are at least as effective as federal requirements. Although most States adopt standards identical to the federal standards, and have similar inspection procedures that include citations and penalties and employer and employee rights and responsibilities, the company should contact the State plan agency directly to determine if there are any different or additional State occupational safety and health requirements.
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