What should you expect from an inspection?
Ask for Inspector’s Credentials: employers should always ask to see the compliance officer’s credentials.
Compliance officers may not: collect a penalty at the time of the inspection; or promote the sale of a product or service at any time.
The compliance officer must:
- explain how the establishment was selected; the likely scope of the inspection;
- explain the purpose of the visit and the standards that apply;
- give the employer a copy of any employee complaint that may be involved (with the employee’s name deleted, if the employee requests anonymity);
- ask the employer to select an employer representative to accompany the compliance officer during the inspection; and
- give an authorized employee representative the opportunity to attend the opening conference and accompany the compliance officer during the inspection.
After the opening conference, the compliance officer and accompanying representatives
- proceed through the establishment to inspect work areas for safety and health hazards;
- determine the route and duration of the inspection;
- make every effort to minimize any work interruptions;
- observe safety and health conditions and practices;
- consult with employees privately, if necessary;
- take photos, videotapes and instrument readings;
- examine records;
- collect air samples;
- measure noise levels;
- survey existing engineering controls; and
- monitor employee exposure to toxic fumes, gases and dusts.
An inspection tour may cover part or all of an establishment, even if the inspection resulted from a specific complaint, fatality or catastrophe.
During the inspection tour, the compliance officer will:
- keep all trade secrets observed confidential;
- consult employees during the tour;
- inspect records of deaths, injuries, and illnesses that the employer is required to keep
- make sure the OSHA workplace poster (OSHA 3165), which explains employees’ safety and health rights, is prominently displayed;
- request a copy of the employer’s Hazard Communication Program and Emergency Action Plan;
- make sure employers establish a written, comprehensive communication program that includes provisions for:
- container labeling;
- material safety data sheets (“MSDS”); and
- employee training program.
- point out to the employer any unsafe or unhealthy working conditions observed; and
- discuss possible corrective action if the employer so desires.
At the conclusion of the inspection, the compliance officer conducts a closing conference with the employer and/or the employees’ representative:
- discusses with the employer all unsafe or unhealthy conditions observed during the inspection;
- indicates all apparent violations for which he/she may issue or recommend a citation; and
- will not indicate any specific proposed penalties but will inform the employer of appeal rights.