The sudden arrival of an OSHA inspector immediately changes the energy at any facility. Employees and supervisors alike tend to be more on edge with an OSHA official on-site which can make the inspection more difficult and unpredictable. This can make the entire process much more difficult for an organization.
A proactive culture of safety curbs fear responses amongst employees because there is an established plan for what is supposed to take place when OSHA arrives. The best way to prepare a full culture of safety is through safety education and analysis. And one of the foundational aspects of that culture includes a thorough plan for working with OSHA inspectors should they arrive. Use these five points to guide the initial structure so an organization is ready as soon as OSHA shows up for an inspection.
1-Select an OSHA Response Team
Selecting a response team is a priority before a representative from OSHA steps foot on company property. Because this is the team that will act as primary points of contact with OSHA and represent the company’s interests while OSHA is on-site.
The OSHA Response Team should consist of three primary groups: internal responders, legal counsel, and a safety consultant. Internal responders are members of the organization that have relevant knowledge of safety — generally this is the safety director. The legal counsel can either be from the organization itself or from an outside team that specializes in OSHA inspections. And the safety consultant should be an experienced team of knowledgeable safety professionals, such as Amerisafe Group.
2- Don’t Volunteer Information
Anyone meeting with the OSHA inspector should be objective, courteous, and honest at all times. But information outside of the immediate scope of the OSHA representative’s inspection does not need to be volunteered.
OSHA shows up to a business with specific details that they are gathering information about that corresponds with a specific reason or issue. Any additional information the OSHA inspectors learns during the course of their investigation can be used to trigger additional inspections. Sticking to the OSHA representative’s outlined scope keeps a business focused on the task at hand and out of the way of additional issues.
3- Always be Polite and Respectful
Politeness and respect go a long way. And it’s important to provide an OSHA inspector with both no matter how much their inspection is appreciated. Staying calm, collected, and polite puts the company’s best foot forward and can earn an inspector’s respect in turn. This level of professionalism can prove beneficial as it showcases a structured organization.
4- Don’t Leave the Inspector Unattended
An inspector should never be allowed to roam around a site or facility without guidance from a member of the team. This is part of the professional courtesy outlined above. It’s also a time for the team to take stock of where the OSHA inspector is focusing their attention. Any area, equipment, or process the inspector documents should be similarly documented by the team for review later.
5- Remember the Closing Conference and Comments
The end of an inspector’s tour of the facility is not the end of their inspection. The Closing Conference can happen the same day as the inspector’s arrival or as far out as several weeks after their physical inspection has concluded.
This stage of the process is when the inspector presents their findings, determinations, and any recommendations for citations. This means it’s imperative that members of the safety team are present and taking thorough notes during the Closing Conference. All documentation from the conference will need to be reviewed with members of the OSHA Response Team and company executives to finalize a plan for safety remediation from the inspector’s findings.
An OSHA inspection is not an event to take lightly. The best plan of action to deal with an inspection is to be proactive in establishing a safety culture in the workplace and preparing for an OSHA visit as if it could happen at any time. Keeping the safety team ready and prepped for OSHA’s arrival will prevent the team from being caught off-guard with an inspection.
Contacting safety professionals who understand the nuances of OSHA protocols and citations is also a major piece for a safety plan of action. Consult with the professionals at Amerisafe to address questions and concerns, and for details on how we can act as an organization’s formal safety consultant throughout the inspection process.