The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) was instituted in 1970 to improve safety in the workplace. To help reduce the risk of injury or death, OSHA requires workplaces to provide a safe and healthy work environment. It tells companies what they can and cannot do and random inspections are performed to ensure businesses are following these guidelines.
The Three Phases of an OSHA Inspection
The first phase of the inspection is the opening conference in which the inspector introduces him/herself. The inspector shows his/her credentials and explains the purpose of the visit. From there, he/she will outline what will happen during the inspection. Also, it is very common for inspections to include interviews with employees. In this situation, it is up to the individual employee if they would like the interview conducted in private or with a manager.
After a review of what the inspection will cover, the next step is a facility walk-through to observe business practices and see if OSHA guidelines are being followed. A company manger should be present so that any questions from the inspector can be answered. The inspector will record what he/she observes, and it is best if your company manger does the same to ensure consistent results.
After the walk-through, the inspector will share his/her results with the manager and other company representatives. He/She will go over any violations spotted during the inspection and will require them to be fixed. If any violations cannot be fixed on the spot, there will be a follow-up to ensure steps are being taken to fix them. If a citation is issued, then the employer must follow the instructions on resolving it and report back to OSHA. Failure to do so can cost the company a lot of money in penalty fees.
Preparing for an OSHA Inspection
Always follow OSHA guidelines! Continually following the guidelines will allow you to always be prepared for an OSHA inspection. Most inspections are performed at random; attempts to delay them raises suspicion. Avoid speculation and go along with the inspection. Other than that, make sure your employees know the correct manager to find when a random inspection occurs. Having one main point of contact to greet the inspector will make the process quicker and easier.
Some other helpful tips include:
- Perform internal audits periodically so you can find and address potential violations before an inspection occurs.
- Keep up to date with OSHA regulations and changes. By being caught up with the latest information, you avoid the risk of a violation you might not have known about. It’s always better to be proactive instead of reactive.
- Document everything! This is very important, so that when documents are needed for part of an inspection you will be able to provide them. Showing proof that you have made the required changes or updates protects you from getting hit with a violation.
- Keep your documents organized and easily accessible. This way, if the inspector needs you to provide something, you can do so quickly. Only provide these documents when you’re specifically asked to do so.
- Create a workplace safety team who will oversee that the business is following these guidelines.
If you want to know more about warehouse safety, be sure to check out our blog “Top 7 Warehouse Safety Tips”. Also, if you want to know more about guidelines that may be specific to your industry, you can visit www.osha.gov.