Whether you are a worker or an employer, chances are good that at some point you will be present during an inspection conducted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA. An OSHA inspection can be somewhat intimidating, particularly if you are unfamiliar with the purpose of the inspection and you do not know what to expect during and after the inspection.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 authorizes OSHA to conduct safety inspections throughout the United States to ensure that employers are complying with the numerous safety standards that are in place which are intended to create and maintain safe and secure workplaces. OSHA may conduct an inspection or an investigation of your workplace. An inspection can be routine or random but is not prompted by a complaint or incident. Although an inspection may be a routine, scheduled inspection, advance notice is not given to the employer except under certain conditions, and even then an employer typically has less than a 24 hour notice of an inspection. An investigation, however, is the result of an accident reported to OSHA. Both 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."
A typical OSHA inspection entails the following:
- Inspector's credentials - the OSHA inspector should introduce himself/herself and show his/her agency credentials. An employer may check the credentials with the state or federal office.
- Opening conference - the inspector should explain the purpose of the inspection, the intended scope of the inspection, and go over the safety standards that apply to the workplace. An authorized employee should also be informed that he/she may accompany the inspector during the inspection.
- Walkthrough - the inspector and the authorized employee will complete a walkthrough of the areas covered in the inspection looking for safety and health hazards and/or violations. The inspector may take photos, review records, take instrument readings, collect samples, or even speak privately with employees. The inspector will also check to make sure all required postings are where they should be and will carefully review records relating to accidents or fatalities in the workplace. Hazards and/or violations that can be corrected on the spot will be if the employer is able to do so; however, these corrections will still be noted in the final report.
- Closing conference - the inspector will go over the details of the inspection with the employer. The employer will be advised of any unsafe or unhealthy conditions noted as well as any violations that will be reported.
If you have specific questions or concerns about your workplace and/or an OSHA inspection conducted at your workplace, consult with the experienced attorneys at Simon & Gilman, LLP.