If you’ve never been subject to an OSHA inspection, your time may soon come. In a recent release of fiscal year 2019 activities, OSHA revealed that they conducted 33,401 inspections. This number represents more inspections than in the previous three years combined. The inspections focused on addressing violations related to trenching, falls, chemical exposure, silica, and other hazards.
Are you ready for OSHA?
Here are a few quick tips that you can follow to make sure your workers are ready when OSHA arrives on your site:
1. Have Your Crew Stop Working
There’s no point in continuing to work while the inspector is there. Instruct your guys to take a break or move them to a different part of the site for the duration of the visit.
2. Get The Right Person Onsite Before Allowing The Inspection To Proceed
Establish in advance who at your company is going to work with OSHA. Instruct your onsite leadership to contact them immediately when OSHA arrives and have them inform the OSHA compliance officer that he/she may not access the site until the company representative arrives onsite.
3. Find Out Why OSHA Is There?
Is this a complaint-based inspection, in response to a death or injury, a targeted inspection (government focus on specific industries), or just a random drive-by inspection? Have your company representative ascertain the reason so that you can take further steps to limit the scope of the visit.
4. Keep Good Notes. Share Only Strong Safety Records If Requested.
Have your company rep keep notes of the walkthrough and take their own photos of the items the compliance officer documents. Inspectors will likely want to review the current and prior 3 years’ illness logs and annual summaries of injuries. They may ask for training records such as toolbox talks, as well as for evidence of programs such as: hazard communication, lockout/tagout, emergency evacuation, silica, and bloodborne pathogens.
The speed with which your company is able to respond to these requests will tell OSHA a lot about you. As will the quality (or lack thereof) of the records you produce. If it takes you a long time to send them your stuff, that’s an indicator that you’re not running a tight ship when it comes to safety. They’ll likely want to look deeper.
Likewise, if you’re sending them crumpled pieces of paper with missing information or illegible handwriting, it will raise red flags and could lead to more citations.
Of course, you can make this kind of stuff easy if you’re using a safety management app like Harness!
One thing is for sure, now that OSHA is stepping up their enforcement activities, you can’t afford to be unprepared.