If your job is inspected by OSHA, there are certain procedures the inspector must follow. Knowing these procedures can make you better prepared for the inspection. (This is from information distributed by ABC’s Keystone Chapter in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.) Here’s the overview:
1. ON ARRIVING AT THE JOB SITE, THE INSPECTOR WILL: (A) introduce himself and show his credentials; and (B) ask for an authorized representative of the company he is inspecting. Your job superintendent may request a delay in the inspection until the company representative or safety manager can arrive. The OSHA inspector may return at a later date that is convenient.
(At this point, your superintendent (after consulting with superiors at your office) may ask the inspector to return with a warrant. Depending on the reason your project was selected, the inspector may return very quickly or not. While this option is available, use it judiciously. Another option, if your project is behind schedule and critical work is taking place on that day, explains this to the inspector and asks if he could return at a more convenient time. In any case, if the inspector leaves, do your own safety survey. Begin with ABC’s “Top OSHA Citations” poster to find the obvious.
2. NEXT, THE INSPECTOR WILL: (A) establish the purpose of the visit- if it is a general inspection or a response to a complaint. (B) establish if the company being inspected is involved in interstate commerce and .(C) establish the number of employees on the project and the number of subcontractors.
3. BEFORE STARTING AN INSPECTION ON THE JOB SITE, THE INSPECTOR SHOULD: (A) request that a representative of each subcontractor be contacted, so each sub can be represented at the opening conference. (B) establish the time for the opening conference (C) allow adequate time for subcontractors to be contacted; and (D) not delay the inspection for lack of representatives of subcontractors.
4. PRIOR TO THE OPENING CONFERENCE, THE INSPECTOR WILL: ask to see employer records, such as OSHA Form 200, Hazard Communications compliance records and accident reports (OSHA 101 or workers compensation records, if applicable).
5. AT THE OPENING CONFERENCE, THE INSPECTOR WILL: establish the scope of his inspection. He does not have to be specific about which areas of work or types of problems for which he is looking he may only give a general indication of his purpose.
6. BEFORE STARTING THE INSPECTION, THE INSPECTOR WILL: determine if any of the employees of the various contractors on the job are represented by a union. If there is a union, the inspector may request that an employee representative be present for the inspection. If there is no union, the inspector may request permission to speak with employees at random.
7. DURING THE INSPECTION, THE INSPECTOR MAY: take notes of all areas and pictures of problem areas (If he takes a picture, you may want to take two from different angles so that you have a better picture of the area). The inspector may mention areas, which he sees as a problem, and may ask employees about specific conditions on the job site. It is important to defend your practices with good reason whenever possible, but don’t be abusive or argumentative. Permit discussions to take place as much and practical without interference.
8. AFTER THE INSPECTION, THE INSPECTOR WILL HAVE A CLOSING CONFERENCE, DURING WHICH HE WILL : (A) review his notes from the inspection, and indicate areas for which a citation may be issued (he may not indicate every area), (B) establish the control or responsibility for various areas, (C) establish an abatement period for violations, (D) provide the contractor’s representative with written information on rights under the OSHA Act; options for contest/appeal of citations and related information.
9. UNDER THE ACT: a citation must be issued with “reasonable promptness” after the inspection. However, delays in the investigation of a problem, the circumstances surrounding an. accident, etc. can slow up this process. The outside limit is six months after the original inspection.