How to Survive OSHA Inspections
The Occupational Safety and Health Association, or OSHA for short, can seem like an intimidating and scary organization. OSHA inspections will often come out of the blue and if you don’t meet their standards then you can be subject to some serious trouble or fines. Luckily, there are ways that you can prepare for these inspections so that you can pass with flying colors.
The Factors That Influence OSHA Inspections
While many people believe that OSHA inspections are random, this is somewhat of a half-truth. While they can feel like they appear out of the blue, there are factors that determine the frequency of OSHA inspections. That means that you actually have more control over them than you may realize.
The first thing to keep in mind is employee complaints. If for any reason employees voice their concern, whether it be accidents or the perceived risk of them occurring, this can lead to OSHA coming in to do a check-up.
Another big factor, although this one is largely out of your control, is residing in a high-hazard area. OSHA has classified some work zones as being more dangerous than average. That means that these places are a higher priority. They will experience OSHA inspections sooner than others and more often than others as well.
The biggest factor by far that will increase the likelihood of an OSHA inspection is accidents, particularly severe ones. Injuries, hospitalizations and especially deaths are pretty much guaranteed to bring at least one OSHA inspector into your place of work. Remember you can have the latest safety equipment for your shop, to help prevent these accidents.
Another factor you should keep in mind is what’s known as follow-up inspections. This could happen because someone else in your area got an OSHA inspection. That might mean you work in a high-hazard area and you are next. Or it could be because a prior inspection revealed some less than average working conditions and the follow-up inspection is there to make sure your workplace brushed up on its safety standards.
The Lowdown of an OSHA Inspection
OSHA inspections are often not as complex as some people make them out to be. That doesn’t mean you should take things easy, as adequate preparation will make the process smoother for you overall.
First, an OSHA inspector will arrive to the workplace. It will usually only be one agent but sometimes two or more will be present if the situation is particularly severe, such as an inspection brought on by a recent fatality.
The first thing the OSHA inspector will do is explain what brought on the investigation in the first place. It could be because of too many employee complaints or it could just be a regular, scheduled inspection.
The OSHA inspector will then explain what they will be looking for regarding good working and safety standards and conditions. They will explain explicitly and clearly what they consider acceptable and unacceptable conditions.
Usually what happens next is that before actually looking at any materials, machinery or specific locations, the OSHA inspector will request some paperwork. This usually includes but is not limited to personnel files, material and chemical inventories, training certificates, training logs, repair logs and reported injury logs. Make sure to have all this information available as soon as possible to make OSHA inspections move as fast and efficiently as possible.
The OSHA inspector might ask you to provide copies of any of the paperwork you provided him or her. You are obliged to do so, and disobeying this request can result in fines or penalties.
After this, the OSHA inspector will begin the actual investigation of the premises. They will inspect machinery to make sure it is clean, stable and operational. They will look over material inventories and make sure it matches the paperwork provided previously. It is important to make sure these materials and chemicals are in their proper place, especially if they are hazardous.
An assigned employer representative will normally accompany the OSHA inspector, but there will likely come a time during the inspection when the OSHA agent wishes to walk around by themselves. You are obligated to respect this decision.
At the end of OSHA inspections, you will be given a detailed list of all violations that were discovered if any were committed. Safety violations can come with penalties costing hundreds if not thousands of dollars.
Final Tips for OSHA Inspections
The best way to survive OSHA inspections is to have trained and comfortable employees. Put them through a safety training program that has an actionable plan. Develop a complaint system so they can voice their concerns to their boss, who then promises to look into any issues. Know how to spot issues and prioritize them from least to most important, and then take care of them accordingly.
About Metal Tech Controls Corp.
Metal Tech Controls Corp. has been a professional, innovative, and trustworthy source since 1989 for press brake safety controls and systems, including the cutting-edge Laser Sentry system. Our products and services, just like our Florida-based business, are all proudly Made in America.