Copyright: radiantskies / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: radiantskies / 123RF Stock Photo


Inspections are conducted without advance notice.

Under special circumstances, OSHA may give less than 24 hours notice to employers.

If an employer refuses to admit an OSHA compliance officer or if an employer attempts to interfere with the inspection, the Act permits appropriate legal action, such as obtaining a warrant to inspect.

What are OSHA’s inspection priorities?

Imminent Danger.

Any condition where there is reasonable certainty that a danger exists that can be expected to cause death or serious physical harm immediately or before the danger can be eliminated through normal enforcement procedures.

Catastrophes and Fatal Accidents.

These conditions receive the highest priority.

Investigation of fatalities and accidents resulting in a death or hospitalization of an employee.

Employer must report such catastrophes to OSHA within 8 hours.

Reporting Requirements

  • Establishment name
  • Location of the work-related incident
  • Time of the work-related incident
  • Type of reportable event (i.e., fatality, in-patient hospitalization, amputation or loss of an eye)
  • Number of employees who suffered the event
  • Names of the employees who suffered the event
  • Contact person and his or her phone number
  • Brief description of the work-related incident

Complaints and Referrals

Formal employee complaints of unsafe or unhealthy working conditions and to referrals from any source about a workplace hazard.

Programmed Inspections

Aimed at specific high-hazard industries, workplaces, occupations, or other industries identified in OSHA’s current inspection procedures.

Follow-up Inspections

Determines if the employer has corrected previously cited violations.

A Special Note about Off-Site Investigations

Phone/Fax Investigations: OSHA responds more quickly to lower-priority hazards using a phone/fax approach.

The agency concentrates resources on the most serious workplace hazards.

The agency telephones the employer.

Employees Rights under OSHA

Employees have no private right of action.

Potential enforcement by Secretary of Labor.

Protection from discrimination and retaliation of any kind from exercising rights under OSHA.

Broad right of access to medical and exposure records within 15 days of request.