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What can I do to prevent an OSHA inspection?

- May 23, 2014 by Guest Bloggers (View all posts by Guest)

What can I do to prevent an OSHA inspection?  This is a question that nearly every employer wonders about.  Unfortunately, the short answer to this question is: Nothing.  However, you can reduce your odds of having an OSHA inspection by understanding why inspections occur and addressing the issues that tend to give OSHA a reason to inspect your establishment.  The following are the most typical reasons for an OSHA inspection in Nevada, but these statistics will be fairly similar from state to state:

Referrals and complaints generate 70% of (Nevada OSHA) NVOSHA inspections. 

Referrals are defined as OSHA notification from an outside entity of the employer, such as the general public, other governmental agencies, other businesses, or even an OSHA officer.  These are considered “drive-by inspections” and are the result of someone perceiving a hazard.  An example would be a high traffic area where a roofer is on the roof without the use of fall protection.  With a public scene like this, OSHA would likely receive many phone calls about the safety issue and the site could easily be observed by an OSHA compliance safety health officer (CSHO) for a self-referral.

Complaints are defined OSHA notifications originating from an employee or former employee or their representative (Spouse, lawyer, union).

Comprehensive inspections are approximately 20-25% of all NVOSHA inspections.

All qualifying workplace injuries and fatalities must be recorded and are reported by OSHA Logs and through company surveys and are tallied up.  Workers’ Compensation claims also provide a record that OSHA can review.  The figures are then categorized by industry SIC & NAICS codes and then compared with the national average.  Industries in Nevada that have higher than the national average number of serious injuries are then considered adverse and therefore, are likely to have a comprehensive, ‘wall to wall inspection’, chosen randomly.

Serious Injuries and Fatalities will guarantee you a visit from OSHA, and make up as much as 5-7% of all NVOSHA inspections.

Serious injuries and fatalities must be reported to OSHA within 8 hours.  Failure to report can result in serious fines.

How can you prevent OSHA inspections?  It’s about what you do before OSHA shows up at your front door.

  1. The number one way to prevent an OSHA inspection is to do the right thing by educating your employees on the hazards associated with their job, and providing them the necessary procedures, policies, and/or Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to do their job safely.  This will cut down on the number of complaints/referrals OSHA will receive.  It can also help you reduce the number of accidents and injuries that occur.
  2. If employees believe they can communicate their concerns to their employer without fear of retaliation, they will more than likely state their safety issues with you ‘in-house’ versus going outside to OSHA.  Therefore, you should have both an open door policy, and a way for anonymous complaints to go up the chain of command, such as a suggestion box.
  3.  Your employees are the best reference for safety issues in the workplace.  Follow up on any suggestions that come in, even if they simply indicate a need to do more training.  Be sure to correct any identified safety issues.

Doing the right thing when it comes to safety, by establishing and enforcing your company’s safety program and allowing your employees to communicate their safety concerns with you, is no guarantee that you will not see OSHA in your future.  However, it will definitely reduce the likelihood of that visit.  If, despite all of your precautions, an OSHA inspection does take place, having taken the appropriate steps to protect your employees also decreases the likelihood of serious citations and fines.

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