How would you react if an OSHA compliance safety and health officer came for a visit? Your heart might start to race. You may start to scramble to get organized. And as a bit of panic sets in, you wonder if you have everything you need… It’s not that you aren’t in compliance or that you have something to hide, but the process can be intimidating—and stressful. On top of that, you know that the great majority of OSHA visits happen with no advance notice, so there can be concern this could happen when you aren’t on-site. With that in mind, we’ve created a list of 6 practical tips for managing an OSHA inspection. Use these tips to know more about what to expect and to avoid unnecessary trouble with OSHA.
1. Keep your key points of contact up-to-date.
Your employee representative should always feel well-versed in what’s involved with an OSHA inspection. They are the ones that should know exactly what to do if an OSHA inspector comes to your facility. Be sure you have more than one person who can fit this role because on the day of an inspection, not all of these people may be on-site. These are ideally employees who are good communicators and are well-versed in standards and compliance at your company. What will this person be responsible for? This is the person who will be responding to requests by the OSHA inspector. They will also let employees know their rights if they are interviewed by OSHA, so it’s important this person is equipped before any kind of inspection ever happens. This person also needs to be aware of the right approach they should take with the OSHA inspector. In many ways, their attitude can set the tone for the rest of the inspection. Working this out ahead of time will give you much greater peace of mind that you are presenting your company in the most organized, positive light possible.
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2. Stay courteous and polite with your OSHA inspector.
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After you check the compliance officer’s credentials (and document them, too), be sure to stay as polite as possible. That can difficult when emotions are running high, but it’s important. If you are rude or disrespectful to the OSHA inspector, you’re simply doing yourself, and the company, a disservice. Your attitude and professionalism with them is something you can control during this process, so be sure all workers remember to stay courteous. Next, don’t do anything that would hold back or hinder the inspection. It’s a good rule of thumb to make sure workers know they should never be dishonest. Be sure you never pressure or suggest that employees answer questions deceptively or dishonestly.
3. Be ready to hand OSHA the right information.
One of the top things you want to remember is how critical it is to have all your safety files, documentation, and OHSA 300 logs as organized as possible. Having these files ready to hand over to the inspector will make for a smoother inspection. After all, the OSHA 300 log is likely one of the first things they are going to ask for, so make sure your properly maintained records are ready—and readily accessible, too. Using a solution like iReport allows you to have all your safety data, training records, SHS Sheets, incident reports, historical claims, and even your OSHA 300 log all in one place.
4. Ask why they are there.
In many settings, you’ll want to be sure that the “opening conference” does not take place until your key points of contact are present. If your compliance officer has not told you the purpose of the visit during that initial briefing, be sure to ask. Never demand any information, but clarify the scope and extent of the inspection. If there is some sort of complaint, you should be able to get a copy of that complaint. Again, keep things polite and courteous throughout the process.
5. Document information alongside the OSHA inspector.
As the walk-around takes place, you’ll want to stay alongside the inspector every step of the way. You can and should also capture and document information (right inside of iReport) alongside the OSHA inspector or compliance officer. Think of it this way: you also want to capture everything they are capturing, especially if the need arises to defend yourself. If and when appropriate—based on your company’s policy regarding taking photos or videos—take the same photos or videos the OSHA inspector has taken.
6. Show your confidence.
Make sure your company rep and others on your OSHA response team show their composure and confidence. Much of that confidence comes from staying organized and equipping employees to be as prepared as possible. For example, within iReport, you can collect, collaborate on, and manage incident reports, tasks, progress reports, and safety activities in one single system, and on any device. To help with that confidence building, make sure your points of contact know things such as: what they should or should not do in each phase of the inspection; key information about the facility, including number of employees/workers; names of managers/supervisors in charge; and even the contact information for those parties. Having that kind of company-related information on-hand or being able to locate it quickly will reflect how the company is organized and fully compliant.
Make Sure There Are No Surprises If OSHA Shows Up At Your Door
Do you have your workers’ comp, leading indicators, safety, and other general liability and insurance reports easily accessible and organized? With iReportSource, all your safety activities are organized and easy to retrieve in one, single system. What’s more: iReportSource allows any worker to report hazards, safety suggestions, near misses, and even incident reports. Empower your employees to shape your organization’s safety culture, and make sure you are ready if OSHA comes knocking. Learn more about iReport today.