A Good Impression: How to Survive An OSHA Inspection

When it comes to safety, we all want to do our best and keep our workers out of harm’s way. However, wanting and doing are two different things, and governing safety bodies like OSHA are there to make sure that the “doing” part gets done. In fact, OSHA can come inspect a factory or workfloor without notice. While they aren’t trying to trick you, they do want to make sure that people who aren’t following the rules are caught a bit off guard so that anything that needs fixed can get done before someone gets hurt. In general, if you’re doing what you’re supposed to and following the rules (and keeping on top of recent updates) you’ve got nothing to worry about. However, here are a few things you can do to make sure that your visit goes over smoothly and that you get a stellar review from the organization.

Do Your Own Inspections

One of the easiest ways to prepare is to do your own inspection or have someone come in and do one for you. The point is that it can be easier to catch things and have a unique perspective when actually walking through and putting yourself in the mindset of someone outside of the company, whose sole concern is safety. This kind of thoroughness will trump looking through a safety checklist and thinking “yep, did that one” every time. The other great thing about a mock inspection is that it will condition/get your workers used to having a third party evaluate them and watch them at work, which brings us to…

Prepare Your Employees

One problem that can come up throughout the course of an OSHA evaluation is employee behavior. Sometimes, being watched can be nervewracking, and for others it can be insulting to have someone glancing in their direction and scribbling something down on a clipboard. In your mock inspections, you can let people know that it’s nothing to worry about and that in the event someone does come in to observe, they can just continue working as normal because they’re doing everything right already. Even though the real liability rests squarely on you, the business owner or manager, it’s easy for employees to worry that they might be punished if they make a mistake or don’t know they’re doing something wrong during the inspection. Putting these fears to rest is good to tackle early.

Be a Proud Participant in OSHA Standards

OK, it’s not like you really have a choice, but there are some things you can do to show you’re dedicated to and serious about the safety cause. Put up your OSHA provided signs in prominent locations – not only is this good during an inspection but you can get these posters for a reason: They keep your employees safer.

Prepare Yourself & Your Safety Planning Team

Throughout the course of an inspection, you and your employees may be asked for documentation regarding your safety procedures so you want to make sure that you not only have effective safety standards in place, but they are clearly documented. You need to include a purpose/justification, as well as exactly what actions were taken to accomplish the task and, this is important as well, when those actions occurred. Be honest and sincere when answering questions and providing documentation, and don’t be afraid to ask questions and get clarification at any time.

Basically, just brief everyone who is going to potentially be involved in an inspection on what they should expect and how to conduct themselves. In addition, take the pressure off of inspections by doing your own due diligence long in advance so that you’re covered from the beginning. Finally, have your safety materials in order and keep them up to date.

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