This article is intended to provide general information only. It is not intended as legal advice or as a solution to an individual problem. You are encouraged to consult with appropriate legal counsel prior to relying on this document in whole or in part.

You just got the phone call from the company receptionist: an OSHA compliance officer has unexpectedly shown up in the lobby. Is your company ready for the visit?

There are some steps you can take to ensure that your company will be ready for that unexpected visit from an OSHA compliance officer.

Prepare for an inspection by doing the following, now:

  • Be sure the required OSHA poster, Job Safety & Health Protection, is displayed in an area accessible to all employees.
  • Find out which OSHA standards and regulations apply to your company.
  • Make sure the required written programs, documents and training obligations are up-to-date.
  • Conduct a survey (safety compliance audit) of your company to identify and correct any safety violations.
  • Determine who in management will be responsible for overseeing safety and health compliance, and designate that person as your OSHA contact.
  • Establish a team to deal with catastrophic occurrences, fatalities and OSHA-related publicity.
  • Train the team in the basics of OSHA regulations and in procedures to follow in the event of a catastrophic incident.
  • Review all records such as the OSHA 300 form to ensure your company is in compliance with record-keeping requirements and that the records are maintained in an accessible location.
  • Communicate to the receptionist, and employees who would cover for the receptionist, the procedure to follow if an OSHA compliance officer shows up – whom to contact in the company and where to direct the OSHA officer.

During an OSHA inspection:

  • The company safety officer should review the OSHA official’s credentials.
  • Ask the OSHA official to state the purpose of the visit.
  • Have an opening conference with the OSHA official to establish the focus and scope of the planned inspection.
  • Stay with the officer at all times; take notes on items discussed.
  • Take photographs of areas inspected or photographed by the officer; use a video camera if the officer is using one.
  • To the extent possible, correct any identified violations immediately.
  • Provide any additional information relevant to and supportive of your company’s position.
  • Ask the OSHA officer for a receipt acknowledging any documents that you provided.
  • Take notes on any problems identified by the officer and note any abatement procedures suggested.

After an inspection:

  • Review all the items identified by OSHA and make corrections.
  • Post any citations in the affected areas and wherever other notices are generally posted.
  • If you do not agree with the OSHA citations, file a notice to contest the citations or participate in a hearing within 15 working days of the date you received them.
  • If you do receive a citation, you may want to contact outside counsel for assistance.

More Information