Monday, March 14, 2011

Managing OSHA Inspections

Employers of every size and type must comply with the regulations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). While some of the provisions of the Act may seem burdensome, worker safety should be the highest priority, so it is in your best interests to comply as fully as possible with all applicable OSHA standards.

No matter how careful you are, there is always a chance that an OSHA official will conduct an inspection of the facility or jobsite. The following steps offer a guideline for what actions you should take when an inspection is made:

1. Review the Compliance Officer’s (CO's) credentials and determine the reason for the inspection, and whether or not you wish to allow it. Calling 1 (800) 321-OSHA will enable you to verify the inspector’s information.

2. Contact Comprehensive Safety Resource toll-free at (855) 215- 2736 to speak to one of our experienced occupational safety consultants regarding your situation.

3. Determine the CO's intended scope for the inspection, including: records to be reviewed, areas to be examined, tests to be conducted, and employees to be interviewed. Resolve any objections you have before continuing the inspection.

4. A manager or experienced company official should accompany the inspector at all times, especially during the walk-around phase of the inspection. It is beneficial to have the safety director or a safety consultant present, as well. Ensure that only the agreed upon areas are examined. Make note of all items reviewed by the inspector and any comments he or she makes.

5. If the CO points out a potential violation, record the precise circumstances of the condition, including the length of time the condition existed, names of exposed employees, potential for injury, and any facts ignored by the CO. When possible, make immediate corrections to the hazards and make note of the corrections, as well as documenting the abated area with a photograph. Always demonstrate a good faith effort to protect employees’ safety and health.

6. If possible, duplicate any photos and/or tests made by the CO. At a minimum, record the procedures and details used by the CO.

7. The Closing Conference will be used to discuss preliminary findings. This is the easiest time to correct misunderstandings.


Tell the Truth

1 Promptly provide statutorily required documents/records

2 Take notes on everything the inspector says or examines

3 Take measurements and make drawings, or photograph them (if OSHA does)

4 Keep a record of employee interviews

5 Ask the inspector to explain perceived violations and look up applicable standard


2 Admit knowledge of violations
3 Tell workers not to talk to OSHA
4 Agree that a violation exists
5 Provide non-statutorily required documents
6 Guess or speculate


1. Read them carefully. Look for the assigned abatement dates. If you plan to contest, do it now.
2. Post the citations at or near each worksite involved for a minimum of three days or until the citations are abated.
3. Abate all citations within the prescribed period.
4. Address each citation formally in a response letter due to OSHA no later than the last assigned abatement date. Mail it as soon as possible.
5. Get ready for the next inspection. An OSHA follow-up inspection is possible.


Once the inspection is completed, OSHA has six months to issue citations, although they are typically issued much sooner. If citations are made, you will have 15 working days - beginning the day you receive the citations - to file a Notice of Contest appealing the citations. The Notice should be filed with Area Director of your local OSHA office. If there is any possibility that you may contest the citations, you should file the Notice. Failure to file the Notice in a timely fashion may result in losing any right to contest the citations. Contact Comprehensive Safety Resource, L.P. for assistance in appealing your citation. If you decide not to appeal, the Notice can be dropped without penalty prior to the hearing.


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