How to Prepare for an OSHA Inspection

Every business owner will know that preparing for an OSHA inspection begins long before inspectors arrive at the door. Complying with OSHA standards demands long-term commitment and adherence to important safety rules. Businesses must strive to promote a culture of safety and wellness, provide training, and motivate the entire team to safeguard their workplace.


OSHA tends to inspect businesses with the highest risk of imminent danger that could cause serious physical harm or death. These include:

  • Imminent Danger Situations: Hazards that could result in death or serious physical harm are given priority. Employers will be asked to remedy these dangers promptly or remove employees who are in danger.
  • Fatalities and Catastrophes: Incidents resulting in the death of an employee or the hospitalization of three or more employees are the next priority. These incidents must be reported to the nearest OSHA office in person or by telephone.
  • Complaints: Allegations of dangers or violations are next on the list. When filing a complaint, employees might seek anonymity.
  • Referrals of Hazard Information: Hazard information referrals might come from federal, state, or local government authorities, as well as people, groups, and the media.
  • Follow-ups: The goal is to guarantee that violations identified during prior inspections are corrected.
  • Planned or Programmed Inspections: These are focused on certain high-hazard industries or specific jobs where accidents and illnesses have been common.

OSHA assigns priorities to complaints based on their severity. For example, OSHA may call an employer to report safety and health issues, then follow up with specifics on suspected dangers for lower-priority threats. Within five days, the employer must respond in writing, outlining any faults discovered and detailing any corrective action taken or planned. OSHA will not conduct an on-site inspection if the response is satisfactory and the individual who complained is satisfied.

How to prepare for OSHA inspection?

OSHA rarely gives notice of inspections, which is why it is incredibly important to always be prepared. The process can take hours or weeks, depending on the size of your company.

  • Make sure every team member understands their responsibilities when it comes to hazards at each worksite.
  • Record everything. Retain paperwork in an organized and safe location.
  • Know that OSHA can ask any employees questions in a private interview – employers should ensure every employee can explain they know how to be safe at the worksite.
  • Ask for a copy of the complaint/reason before the OSHA inspector begins.
  • Managers will receive extra scrutiny, so train them up.

The procedure of an OSHA inspection

During an OSHA inspection, a set procedure and guidelines must be followed so that the process remains transparent and fair.

Before the inspection begins, make sure the OSHA inspector presents proper credentials, including a photo ID with a name, serial number, and office.

  • In the opening conference, the inspector will explain the scope and purpose of the inspection. If there is a complaint involved, the inspector must provide a copy of the same.
  • Ensure that you select a representative from your organization beforehand who will be responsible for communicating with the officer and accompanying him on the walk-around procedure. The representative must be well-versed with information such as the company’s work, the number of employees, details of the company’s policies and documents, contact information, and so on.
  • The officer must be accompanied by the representative throughout the walkthrough. The officer will examine the site, operations, processes, equipment, devices, machines, and so on to ensure OSHA compliance. If the officer takes photos and recordings, the company representative must capture and record the same so that both parties have identical records for inspection. The officer may also conduct one-on-one interviews with employees.
  • After the walk-around, during the closing conference, the inspector will discuss the findings and apparent violations discovered during the inspection, course of action, strengths and weaknesses, employee rights, and consultation services. In the event of any violations, OSHA must issue citations and proposed penalties within six months of the occurrence of the violations.

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