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Do you know what to do if OSHA comes calling?

Someone enters your shop and tells you he/she is an OSHA inspector and is here to conduct a safety audit. Your response is one of two:

A. Your heart plummets into your stomach and you find yourself searching for a quick exit.

B. You reach out your hand confidently and greet the inspector.

What to expect

With some exceptions, OSHA doesn’t notify the companies it inspects in advance. OSHA inspectors usually show up unannounced.

Before the inspection begins, the OSHA inspector will present his or her credentials to the owner, owner representative, or supervisor in charge.

TIP: As part of your training or orientation, tell staff in advance what to expect if an OSHA inspector shows up. Appoint a contact person and instruct her to notify other necessary company officials, escort the inspector directly to a pre-determined area (conference room or office), and remain with the inspector until a company official arrives. Tell the contact person not to take the inspector through any area but the designated area of your facility until you have determined the purpose of the inspection.

Ask to see the credentials of the person claiming to be an OSHA inspector, just as you would ask any stranger who shows up at your facility unannounced. Asking for credentials isn’t just your right, it is common sense and essential for your own safety and the safety of your workers. Be polite and respectful though. Chances are, anyone who shows up claiming to be an OSHA inspector is likely to be who he claims to be. If the visitor refuses to show credentials, take the necessary security precautions as instructed by your company policy guidelines.

Should You Let Them In?

You can’t refuse to let a bona fide OSHA inspector enter your facility. But you may ask the OSHA inspector to get a warrant to conduct the inspection before entering and refuse entry without a warrant. Exceptions: You can’t refuse entry for lack of a warrant if you or one of your representatives has already given consent to the inspection or if there’s an emergency or urgent reason for the inspector to enter.

Before exercising this right, remember that the inspector is only human. Making his/her job more difficult just to stall for more time to prepare may cause you more difficulties during your inspection. But if you have a good reason you shouldn’t hesitate to exercise your right to demand that the inspector get a warrant.

If the inspector does get the warrant, you must let them in. It is illegal to interfere with the inspector’s conduct of the inspection. But once the inspector is in, you may require them to follow the same policies, procedures and rules as any other employee or visitor. This includes insisting on the wearing of mandatory Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), the removal of dangling jewelry, etc.

Are you ready for an OSHA inspection? Is everything in order? Do you have all the required documentation, programs, posters, etc.?  You should be prepared every day at any moment for OSHA to come knocking. We at Safe and Compliant can help you meet all of these requirements. The proper Safety Program, HAZCOM program, required posters, SDS database and even a self inspection checklist, and more. Full members of Safe and Compliant can welcome an inspection and smile when OSHA comes knocking. Join today!


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