Regulatory inspections are a part of nearly every business operation. Inspections – particularly from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) — serve to ensure that health and safety guidelines are being followed, which ultimately helps to protect workers from potential sources of injury. By reducing injury, business owners can drive down workers’ compensation claims, among many other benefits. Whether inspections are planned or come as a surprise, business owners and facility managers need to be prepared. In this guide, we’ll explore what to expect from an OHSA inspection, and how your clients can take the steps needed to prepare.
The OSHA Inspection: What to Expect
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is responsible for making sure America’s workplaces are safe. Inspections may be scheduled ahead of time, such as for annual compliance checks, or may be triggered by an injury or workplace incident that must be investigated by regulatory officials. Even with regulatory inspections being part of the operating environment, the likelihood of receiving an inspection is slight; of the eight million workplaces falling under the jurisdiction of OSHA and its state-based branches, just over 70,000 inspections are conducted annually, on average.
Even if it is not particularly likely that an inspection will occur, smart business owners know that they need to be prepared all the same. There are several steps involved in preparation. The first comes in how the inspector is handled when he or she makes a visit. To prepare, businesses should designate employees for specific roles in an inspection scenario, particularly:
- An employee who will greet the inspector.
- An employee who will accompany the inspector throughout the inspection process.
- An employee or employees who are tasked with gathering any required documentation, such as safety policies, training records, injury reports, workers compensation claim reports, and hazard mitigation records.
- A union representative if the business operates with union workers.
- Backup employees to fill these primary roles as needed.
Workplace safety experts note that how an inspector is treated during the inspection influences how the inspection will go; poor response or indifference on the part of employees may reflect negatively in inspectors’ records, while workplaces that are responsive to the process tend to be viewed more favorably. Remember that good managers will see regulatory inspections as an opportunity for improvement in safety rather than a negative experience to be dreaded.
The inspector may conduct brief interviews with facility managers and selected employees. After the inspection walkthrough, interviews, and closing conferences are completed, the inspector may request additional documentation. To adequately prepare for a surprise inspection, it is imperative that:
- Records be kept – including any that are required under OSHA guidelines.
- Records be easily accessible.
- Records be complete and thorough.
Benefits of Pre-Inspection Preparation
No business owner wants to face the wrath and potentially significant penalties associated with a bad OSHA compliance inspection. Preparing for an inspection, as rare as that may be, is a great way of protecting the facility and its employees. Employers are responsible for maintaining safe work environments, and preparing for an inspection helps to ensure that workplaces are made safe from hazards.
Because health and safety training is required by OSHA guidelines in many different industries, employers can take a proactive approach by ensuring this training is being conducted and being documented. This ultimately reduces the expenses associated with workers compensation claims; in safe workplaces with adequate training, worker injury rates tend to drop dramatically.
Recordkeeping is an important part of any business operation. For OSHA inspection purposes, the proper records can spell the difference between a great inspection and one filled with violations. Keeping safety records, including any injury claims and workplace safety training information, reduces the likelihood of financial penalties imposed by regulators. With the right preparation for inspections, businesses can reduce overhead expenses and protect their valued employees from the hazards that can lead to life-threatening or fatal injury.
About Caitlin Morgan
Caitlin Morgan specializes in insuring assisted living facilities and nursing homes and can assist you in providing insurance and risk management services for this niche market. Give us a call to learn more about our programs at 877.226.1027.