With the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) February 1 deadline approaching, employers must be prepared to post their OSHA logs of recordable employee injuries and illnesses from the previous calendar year. In order to maintain compliance with OSHA, however, it's important to understand the intricacies of how the organization operates.
Previously in this two-part series, we focused on what OSHA investigates and how its compliance safety and health officers prepare for these scenarios.Today, we're going to discuss what happens during an actual inspection.
What does the OSHA officer look for during the walkaround?
After explaining why he or she is at a worksite, the OSHA officer will ask the employer to select a representative from the company to be present throughout the inspection. What follows next is called a walkaround. This consists of the OSHA officer and the chosen employee walking through the workplace so that the federal safety officer can inspect potential hazards, review worksite injury and illness records, point out dangers that can be immediately corrected and cite any violations that they notice. Penalties for facilities that are not in compliance with OSHA can be thousands of dollars depending on the violation and if is willful or repeated. OSHA officers may choose to reduce the fines - with the exception of willful violations - based on an employer's good faith.
What happens during the closing conference?
Following the walkaround, the compliance officer will hold a closing conference with the employer and the employee who accompanied him throughout the inspection, and in it they'll discuss possible courses of action for improvement, as well as employee rights. After leaving a worksite, OSHA citations must be issued within six months of when the violation occurred. Employers can choose to meet with an OSHA area director for an informal discussion about the inspection and subsequent citation. Or, if they would like to contest the alleged violations, they have 15 working days to do so.