Are You Ready for an OSHA Inspection? 5 Steps to Staying Prepared

It’s tempting to ignore the potential for an inspection from the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). Unfortunately, this can mean putting off the necessary preparation steps until it’s too late. Keeping in the loop on OSHA news and regulatory changes is one of several ways to stay motivated in keeping your organization prepared. One quick glance on the OSHA website and you’ll see several new, upcoming and pending regulatory updates, things are constantly changing and being improved in terms of OSHA regulations, making it especially difficult to manage an inspection.

Not being prepared, however, is not an option; OSHA has fined companies millions of dollars for non-compliance. There are several strategies you can take to help assure that you’ll come out of your OSHA inspection unscathed.

Strategies for Inspection Prep

1. Research Upcoming Regulations

Knowing what’s up and coming in the world of OSHA is an important thing to do when trying to ensure you’ll pass an inspection. When a new regulation gets approved, OSHA is typically more stringent with it for at least a couple of months. Right now, those rules include combustible dust, silica exposure and changes to the electrical standard. Check back on the OSHA site regularly to determine what the rules are and what you can do to stay in compliance with them.

2. Research Initiatives

 Every year OSHA looks at data from the previous year to determine what its key focuses are going to be. These focuses can be found on the OSHA website or in their press releases. After a year of poor stats on construction industry falls, OSHA has now made a big push to crack down on fall safety. Make sure your facilities and employees are strictly in compliance with all OSHA’s current initiatives.

3. Know the Biggies Across Industries

This includes, but is not limited to having an Emergency Action plan and making sure you’re workers are wearing the correct PPE, along with keeping things up to electrical code. An easy way to keep track of these “biggies” is simply to keep up to date with OSHA’s top ten most frequently issued citations.

4. Know the Biggies for Your Industries

 It’s intuitive that lab safety isn’t important to your industry if you don’t even have a lab. But what if you do have a lab? Do you know the big things to avoid within that safety segment? This can be the most difficult aspect of prepping for your audit as this information is often not widely spread. While anecdotal evidence can be helpful, it’s probably best to have OSHA experts in to help you determine what industry-specific would be most important to your facility.

5. Have the Paperwork and the Answers Ready

If you have more than ten employees and are not in an exempt industry according to OSHA regulations you should have a log of all work-related injuries and illnesses. Depending on your type of business, you should have 300, 300A or 301 forms filled out. Ensure that you have all of the required written programs and training programs that are needed for your facility. On top of that, being respectful and taking the inspection seriously can go a long way. Don’t offer information unless asked, and be ready to answer any question that might come up. The more prepared you are, the better impression the inspector will have on you.

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About the Author

Rick Foote is the industrial consulting services manager at Triumvirate Environmental. He is an OSHA 501 instructor and has more than 25 years of EH&S experience. He has been at Triumvirate for almost 12 years.