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How to Survive an OSHA Inspection

How the OSHA Inspection Works

The 6 Phases of the OSHA Inspection Process

Phase 1: The OSHA inspector first shows up and presents credentials

OSHA usually conducts inspections during the regular working hours of a workplace. With some exceptions, OSHA inspectors usually show up unannounced. When the inspection begins, the OSHA inspector must present credentials to the owner, owner representative, operator or agent in charge.

Scope of the Inspection

The inspector will also explain the scope of the inspection, i.e., how comprehensive it will be. Scope of inspection varies depending on the situation, the facility and reason for the inspection. OSHA conducts 2 kinds of inspections:

  • Comprehensive Inspections: These are the most thorough inspections. During a comprehensive inspection the inspector looks at all or substantially all potentially hazardous conditions, operations, and practices within your workplace.
  • Partial Inspections: These inspections are limited to certain potentially hazardous areas, operations, conditions or practices at the workplace. However, OSHA inspectors have discretion to convert a partial inspection to a comprehensive one if they find indications of problems during earlier phases of the inspection.


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Additional Resources
  • Post Image How to Survive an OSHA Inspection

    An OSHA inspection can be a scary experience. Of course, if you're one of those employers who neglect safety, there's not a whole lot we can do to help you. The problem is that OSHA inspections can also be an ordeal for employers that care about safety and try to obey the rules but still get into trouble because they mismanage the inspection process. We created this SPECIAL REPORT to help you understand the OSHA inspection process and show you how to minimize your risks of liability and disruption during OSHA inspections. In addition to setting out strategies, tips and suggestions based on the good and bad experiences of companies that have gone through the inspection process, this SPECIAL REPORT includes more than a half dozen Checklists, Model Policies and other TOOLS you can use to implement the OSHA inspection strategies set out at your own workplace. Download Now...

  • Post Image How to Survive an OSHA Inspection - Slide Deck From Webinar

    Your Presenter: Jim Laboe, Attorney, Orr & Reno, P.A.
    Proven steps to take throughout an inspection to present your facility in the best possible light and reduce your risk of penalties to the absolute rock bottom Yet as powerful as these actions are, most of them are not difficult to use. You could put them to work for you immediately and instantly gain a higher degree of legal protection than you may have considered possible. You'll discover, for example.
    Download Now...

  • Post Image How to Prepare Your Workers for an OSHA Inspection

    When OSHA inspectors show up at a workplace, the first people they usually encounter are the workers and supervisors at the site. What transpires between those workers and the inspector in those few moments can make or break the inspection. Cooperation vs. Self-Incrimination The start of the inspection is the crucial period and one fraught with tension. One false or rude remark by a worker and you might be in for a rough ride. That's why most companies tell their workers to be courteous and cooperative. In fact, there's a legal duty to extend cooperation to OSHA officials. On the other hand, you don't want your workers to be too cooperative. While inspectors have authority, inspectees also have legal rights during the inspection process. Caving in to - or worse, anticipating - the inspector's every demand can compromise your legal position. More than one company has been hit with citations or higher fines because their workers gave away the store. Read More...

  • Post Image Model Representative Instructions for Walkaround Phase of OSHA Inspection

    BENEFITS The walkaround is the phase of the OSHA inspection where the inspector looks at the work site to ensure compliance and check for OSHA violations. Having your representative shadow the inspector and take notes, photos, etc., during the walkaround could prove crucial if you decide to contest a citation later on. But representatives must be properly instructed.
    HOW TO USE THIS TOOL Here's a set of Model Instructions to provide to company representatives about what to do when accompanying the OSHA inspector during the walkaround. Download Now...

  • Post Image How to Contest an OSHA Citation

    OSHA issues about 90,000 citations per year. Believe it or not, some of them are unfair. If you get hit with a citation you think isn’t fair, you can do something about it. But you have to act fast. You have 15 working days to file the necessary paperwork. If you make a mistake or miss the deadline, the citation becomes a final order and you lose your chance to contest it. Here’s a look at what you need to do to preserve your rights. Click here for a Model Notice of Contest you can use to challenge an OSHA citation. The Notice of Contest The document you must file to challenge an OSHA citation is called a “notice of contest.” It lets OSHA know you disagree with the citation and reserve the right to fight it at a later agency hearing. Once you file the notice, the citation is put on hold. That means you don’t have to abate, i.e., fix, the alleged violation or pay a fine unless and until a judge orders you to. Read More...

  • Post Image Model Notice of Contest Form to Challenge Unfair OSHA Violation

    BENEFITS If you think an OSHA citation is unfair, you have a right to challenge it by filing a so called Notice of Contest. But there are strict rules with regard to filing procedures and the contents of the Notice.
    This Model Notice will assist you in writing a professional, effective violation challenge.
    HOW TO USE THIS TOOL This letter illustrates how to write a proper notice of contest to challenge an OSHA violation. Remember, you have only 15 working days from the date you got the citation notice to file your notice of contest. Adapt this notice to your own circumstances. Download Now...

  • Post Image 5 Things You Shouldn't Say to an OSHA Inspector

    How likely are you to get cited if an OSHA inspector shows up? In some cases, the way you treat the inspector can have almost as much impact on your liability as how you actually manage the hazards of your workplace. Inspectors who feel ill used will work extra hard to find violations to cite; and when and if they detect a problem, what you say to the OSHA inspectors after they point it out can turn a routine citation into a willful one. Here are 5 examples of the kinds of statements that commonly get companies into hot water with OSHA inspectors: 1. I Confess, Management Did It What You Say:"I've been complaining to management for months about that doggone hazard!" What the Inspector Hears: "Management was aware of a hazard and still didn't address it. We're looking at a willful citation." Read More...

  • Post Image Who OSHA Plans to Inspect in 2012

    This fall, OSHA issued its Site-Specific Targeting Directive for FY 2011 based on work injury and illness data from 2010. The 2011 SST Directive includes some key changes that put more companies in the cross hairs for targeted OSHA inspection. Here are the key points of the 2011 Directive you need to know about. How SST Works Worksites outnumber OSHA inspectors by a ratio of over 150 to 1. Since inspectors can’t visit every site, OSHA targets facilities that present the highest safety risks. The SST program is the centerpiece of this strategy. Under SST, OSHA surveys nearly 80,000 workplaces each year and selects about 14,000 “high hazard facilities based on their Days Away, Restricted, or Transferred (DART) rate and Days Away From Work Injury and Illness (DAFWII) rates. Read More...

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