Here's What to Expect During an OSHA Inspection

Here's What to Expect During an OSHA Inspection

Daniel Hall 19/04/2023
Here's What to Expect During an OSHA Inspection

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a federal agency responsible for setting and enforcing workplace safety standards. 

OSHA inspections are crucial in ensuring that employers are providing safe and healthy workplaces for their employees. 

If you're an employer, it's important to understand what to expect during an OSHA inspection, so you can be prepared and proactive in maintaining a safe work environment.

Types of OSHA Inspections


When it comes to OSHA inspections, there are a few different types you might encounter, each with its own purpose. 

For starters, complaint inspections are triggered when an employee or a third party raises concerns about potential safety hazards or violations at a workplace. OSHA takes these complaints seriously and will investigate to ensure that everyone's working in a safe environment.

Another type of inspection, fatality/accident investigations, occurs when there's been a severe incident at the worksite, such as a death or a major injury. These investigations help OSHA understand what went wrong and determine if any safety regulations were violated, so they can prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.

Now, programmed inspections are more like routine check-ups. These inspections are scheduled based on factors like the industry's hazard level or a company's history of incidents. OSHA uses these inspections to make sure workplaces are maintaining safety standards and proactively addressing any potential hazards. 

Follow-up inspections, on the other hand, are conducted to ensure that previously cited violations have been resolved and the necessary corrective actions have been taken.

Lastly, there are imminent danger situations - these inspections are carried out when OSHA becomes aware of a situation that poses an immediate threat to workers' safety. In such cases, OSHA acts swiftly to inspect and address the hazard before any harm occurs. 

Opening Conference

The opening conference is like the kick-off meeting for an OSHA inspection. It's the time when the inspector and the employer (or their representative) sit down together to discuss the purpose of the visit and get everyone on the same page. 

You'll have the chance to meet the inspector, who will introduce themselves and show you their credentials, proving they're authorized to conduct the inspection. 

During the opening conference, the inspector will also explain the inspection process and its scope, so you know exactly what to expect. They'll talk about the areas they'll be checking, the type of violations they're looking for, and how they'll gather evidence. 

Additionally, they'll discuss employee representation and rights, such as the right to have a representative present during the inspection, the right to speak privately with the inspector, and the right to remain anonymous when reporting hazards. 

This part is crucial because it ensures everyone is aware of their rights and responsibilities during the inspection. 


Walkthrough Inspection

The walkthrough inspection is when the inspector takes a closer look at the worksite, identifying potential hazards and violations. The inspector will examine the entire area, including the:

  • Equipment

  • Machinery

  • Workstations

They'll be looking for things like:

It's essential to keep the worksite clean and organized, with proper signage and labels, to avoid any confusion or accidents during the inspection.

During the inspection, the inspector will gather evidence to support any potential citations or violations. This could include taking photos of the worksite or collecting documents related to safety procedures or employee training. 

They may also conduct employee interviews to understand their job responsibilities, any potential hazards they've encountered, and whether they feel safe at work. 

Employee involvement is crucial, and they should be encouraged to speak openly and honestly with the inspector. It's essential to foster a culture of safety where employees feel empowered to raise any concerns or report any hazards.

Tips for a Smooth OSHA Inspection

An OSHA inspection can be a stressful and nerve-wracking experience for employers, but there are steps you can take to make the process smoother and more efficient. Here are some tips for a smooth OSHA inspection:

Cooperation and communication are key. Be cooperative and respectful towards the inspector, and answer their questions honestly and to the best of your ability. Keep the lines of communication open and respond promptly to any requests for documentation or information. You should also designate a point person to be the main contact for the inspector, ensuring that all communication is streamlined and consistent.

Demonstrate your commitment to safety. OSHA inspectors are looking for evidence that you take safety seriously and have implemented measures to prevent workplace accidents and injuries. This could include having a robust safety program, providing regular employee training, and maintaining detailed records of safety inspections and hazard assessments.

Ensure that your documentation is thorough and up-to-date. This includes keeping:

  • Detailed records of safety inspections

  • Hazard assessments

  • Employee training

If you are worried that your paperwork is not up to date, you can do a trial inspection. Experts suggest that a mock OSHA inspection is one of the best ways to prepare for the official inspection. With it you can make sure that all required OSHA posters and documentation are prominently displayed in the workplace, and have a system in place to organize and track safety-related documents.

If the inspector does identify any issues or hazards during the inspection, address them promptly. This demonstrates your commitment to safety and can help mitigate any potential penalties or citations. Develop and implement a plan to correct identified hazards, and make sure that all necessary corrective actions are taken promptly.

By being cooperative and communicative, demonstrating your commitment to safety, ensuring thorough documentation, and promptly addressing identified issues, you can help make the OSHA inspection process smoother and more efficient. Ultimately, this will help ensure a safer and healthier workplace for everyone involved.

Start Preparing for Your OSHA Inspection Now

OSHA inspections are a vital aspect of ensuring workplace safety and health. By understanding the different types of inspections, preparing your workplace for inspection, and cooperating with the inspector, you can help make the inspection process smoother and more efficient. 

Remember, the goal of OSHA inspections is not to punish employers but to help ensure the safety and well-being of all employees. By prioritizing safety in the workplace, you can help create a positive and healthy work environment for everyone.

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Daniel Hall

Business Expert

Daniel Hall is an experienced digital marketer, author and world traveller. He spends a lot of his free time flipping through books and learning about a plethora of topics.

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