The Office of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) helps companies reduce accidents that occur on the job, including injuries, illnesses and fatalities. Because OSHA is responsible for the health and safety of employees and the regulation of occupational safety standards, the compliance team frequently pays surprise visits to determine whether organizations are operating within mandated guidelines. Knowing how to prepare for an OSHA visit and what to do if you receive a surprise visit will keep your company in compliance year-round. Here are a few suggestions:
For surprise visits:
- Have your OSHA poster posted in a highly visible place.
- If a compliance officer comes to visit, do not refuse the inspection. Although it is within your rights, the refusal will be reported to the Area Director, which may result in further investigation.
- Listen carefully to the opening conference provided by the compliance officer to find out why they are inspecting your facility. The conference should explain the purpose, scope, standards and if the visit was triggered from an employee complaint, a copy of the complaint should be provided. The complaint will not have the employee’s name.
- Have access to all worksite injury and illness records, proof of certification if applicable, chemical inventories, training records and programs, equipment inspection records and personnel files if needed.
- Have a representative ready to accommodate the compliance officer’s needs and accompany them during the inspection. A union steward may also be included in the inspection tour.
- Use OSHA record keeping tools like OSHA reporting software or OSHA compliance software to assist in the preparation and maintenance of your records so they will meet the regulatory standards and be readily accessible for the compliance officer.
- Anticipate questions that may be asked and make sure your management team is on the same page. Questions may cover topics such as safety orientation for employees, job trainings, audits, how often safety meetings are conducted, information on safety rules, emergency policies and procedures, and employee feedback on the working environment.
- Participate in an OSHA voluntary compliance program and develop an internal complaint system for all employees.
Anticipating a surprise visit from OSHA can be beneficial as it will compel your organization to continuously operate within health and safety standards. Using OSHA compliance software will alert you to any inconsistencies or areas that need work. These suggestions will ensure your organization is always ready for success. Remember, safety is important.