inspection OSHA

How to Prepare for an OSHA Visit

Kirk Harris currently serves as president of Atlanta-based Kaptain Kirk Clothing Co. Harris’ love of apparel began with retail in the late '90s and in 2006 he founded his first clothing line. In 2012 his journey led him to apparel decoration and in 2014 he settled into his current position. He can be reached by email at KaptainKirkcc@yahoo.com, by phone at 404-396-7171, or linkedin.com/in/KaptainKirk. Visit his website, KaptainKirkClothingCo.com.

The first thing to remember: don’t get worked up about the visit. Be cooperative, responsive, and remember, you have rights, and it is your facility. Allow the inspection to happen at a reasonable time, and in a fair manner to your work environment. Inspectors have 180 days to complete it so don’t let it impede on your business.  
Don't know who OSHA is? Find out more information on the agency in this Term of the Week
If you pay attention to these suggestions, do your research, and add OSHA preparation to your routine, your inspection should only take a few days and leave you with a clean record.
 
An OSHA inspection can happen at any time so preparing and knowing what to expect will work wonders for staff stress, should the time come.
 
When the inspector arrives, confirm their credentials and make sure everything checks out. If they don’t, contact your area OSHA agency for confirmation. Having your local agency’s information on hand should be part of your prep. Once confirmation is received, give the inspector a room to prepare while you notify all parties an inspection is beginning.
 
The inspector will begin with an opening address to state the reason for their visit and allow you an opportunity to make inquiries. Some of your rights also include having an attorney present and refusing to record.
 
Always remain professional and do not volunteer extra information. Make them aware of any trade secrets they discovered, so they keep any evidence confidential.
 
The inspection will include walking the site, examining equipment, and observing employee work practices. The inspector will also take photos, notes, and conduct interviews. My suggestion: keep any discussions off the production floor and out of workspaces.
 
After the visit, the inspector will end with a closing address. This is your time to ask about discoveries, request copies of collected information, and request an appeal, if necessary.  This is also the time you may have to provide safety policies, health policies, safety audits, and training record documents.
 
Keep in mind inspectors have no authority to issue citations. However, their recommendations do carry weight.
 
Assign someone in your organization the responsibility of accompanying the inspector during their visit. This person should know where all company policies and documents live in the shop, and there should be a backup person.
 
As part of your preparation, each job should have a job hazard analysis, along with a form that states what hazards exist and how to reduce them, as well as an “official” OSHA poster detailing employee rights on display.  Also, make sure safety training is up to date, every employee has the required training, and their training is documented and available for inspection.
 
Make sure every employee knows the safety policies, where they are located and have signed off, stating they understand them. Also, it would not hurt to have a report of any employee complaints with documentation of resolution or resolve.
 
Other documents that should be available are training records, worker comp files, insurance, and third-party audits. If any third-party audits identified safety issues, address them sooner rather than later, regularly review your paperwork, and keep all information correct and current, including safety training and internal audits.
 
The best step to preparation is knowing yours and your employee’s rights. To learn more about these rights contact your local OSHA office.