OSHA’s mission is to oversee safe and healthful working conditions for all American workers by enforcing standards and providing training, outreach, education, and assistance.
OSHA ensures that employers comply with safety regulations by conducting inspections of workplaces suspected of violations and responding to complaints from employees about hazardous work environments.
Additionally, they offer free online courses on workplace safety topics ranging from electrical safety basics to preventing falls on construction sites.
Who Does OSHA Inspect?
OSHA inspects workplaces where employees are exposed to hazardous conditions or potential safety risks. This includes construction sites, factories, warehouses, offices, and other places of employment.
OSHA has the authority to conduct inspections without an appointment or advance notice to ensure that employers provide a safe environment for their workers. Inspectors will check for violations, such as unsafe machinery, inadequate protective equipment, and poor sanitation practices.
They may also assess whether employers are following other regulations, such as noise levels and hazardous materials storage. If violations are found during an inspection, citations can be issued with fines ranging from $500 - $70 000, depending on the severity of the violation.
Inspections can also be triggered by complaints filed by workers about their work environments or if there is a workplace injury or fatality reported in the area. In these cases, OSHA will investigate further to determine if any standards were violated that could have contributed to the incident occurring in the first place.
Regardless of how they come about, it is important for all employers to take responsibility when it comes to their duty under federal law and make sure they provide a safe working environment for all their employees so that no one gets hurt while on the job.
What To Do When OSHA Arrives
When OSHA arrives to conduct a workplace inspection, employers should remain calm and cooperate with the inspectors. Inspectors will typically provide an explanation of their presence and what they plan to review during their time on site. It is important that all employees follow the inspector’s instructions and comply with any requests made during the inspection process.
Employers should also take notes throughout the visit so they can remember any recommendations or corrections suggested by the inspector for future reference.
During an inspection, employers should be prepared to answer questions about work conditions, safety protocols, hazardous materials used in production processes, etc., as well as provide documentation related to training programs or other policies put into place to ensure worker safety.
If violations are found during the inspection process, it is important that employers address them quickly in order to avoid fines and penalties imposed by OSHA.
Additionally, employers should not provide false or misleading information during an OSHA inspection, which could lead to severe legal penalties.
Furthermore, employers should take care not to “coach” employees prior to interviews with OSHA inspectors, as this can create a hostile work environment which may result in further citations being issued against the employer later down the line.
Instead, employers should focus on providing accurate answers and cooperating fully with investigators to quickly identify any issues and help correct them if needed.
When OSHA has completed its inspection, it will issue a citation to the employer outlining any violations that have been identified. It is important for employers to receive and review this citation carefully to ensure that all the information contained within it is accurate.
When an employer receives a citation from OSHA, it is important to check for the abatement date and severity level. The abatement date indicates when any violations listed on the citation must be rectified to avoid further penalties. Employers should ensure that all necessary steps are taken in order to correct any noted issues by this date or face additional fines or other sanctions.
If an employer decides to contest the citation issued by OSHA, they should first submit a written objection outlining their reasons for challenging the citation. In addition to submitting a written objection, employers may also request an informal conference with OSHA officials before responding formally in writing.
In conclusion, it’s important to be aware of what to do and what not to do when OSHA arrives. Reviewing the citation, checking for an abatement date, submitting a notice of contest (PDF) if contesting the citation, and attending an informal conference are all necessary steps in the proper process.
However, if not contesting the citation abating the hazard and posting the citation should occur before any more actions are taken. Considering these tasks will ensure a successful response to potential OSHA activity.
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Carmen Sanchez is a Commercial Insurance & Risk Advisor who offers her clients the highest level of service.
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