Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspections can occur at any time. While most companies do not receive notice that an OSHA inspection will commence, in certain extreme circumstances, OSHA will let a company know around 24 hours or less in advance. Many of these situations arise due to alleged worker complaints, accident investigations and any suspicion of imminent danger. Other less dire situations include simply wanting to ensure that the employer will be available should an inspection have to occur after normal business hours.
Though OSHA cannot audit every workplace around the country each year, employers must be ready in the event that OSHA decides to inspect their facilities' work sites. Should the possibility of an inspection arise, according to OSHA safety standards, here are six main priorities OSHA investigators consider before pursuing an OSHA investigation in order of agency importance:
1. Immediate Danger
While this is not incredibly common, should an OSHA officer arrive to a job site and immediately see that the employer's workers are in danger, the OSHA official will immediately demand that all endangered employees leave the premises.
After these hazards are addressed and removed, workers will be able to return to their jobs. However, this situation can lead to serious OSHA penalties, especially if it is a repeated or willful violation.
2. Employee injuries, illnesses or deaths
"All companies must report work-related fatalities within 8 hours."
According to OSHA record-keeping standards, all companies must report work-related fatalities within 8 hours, while employers must report all hospitalizations and losses of limb or eyes within 24 hours. This incident usually prompts an immediate OSHA investigation to determine whether the employer was at fault for the accident. The outcome of this particular investigative focus is to remove all job hazards and prevent future incidents.
3. Worker complaints
This kind of investigation receives high priority due to worker protection rights. OSHA makes it easy and confidential for employees to report a safety complaint, and the Whistleblower Protection Act protects these workers from facing serious company retributions for reporting their concerns to OSHA.
4. Federal, state or local hazard referrals
This inspection occurs at the urging of a federal, state or local organization or agency regarding the safety of a workplace. The media could even play a part in prompting this OSHA investigation should journalists uncover a serious safety problem within an enterprise.
5. Targeted inspection
There are certain high-hazard or high-risk industries, such as many manufacturing sectors, where OSHA officials frequently pursue agency investigations. Many of these organizations have higher-than-average rates for illness or injury, making them a serious threat for employee safety and health.
6. Follow-up inspections
This inspection receives the lowest priority because they are following a previous inspection to ensure that all violations were addressed after the visit. However, for certain high-risk industries or repeat violators, these follow-up inspections may receive higher priority.
To avoid amassing fines during an OSHA inspection, contact IndustrySafe today to learn more about our inspections software and how it can collect relevant safety data for your workplace. Visit our website for more information.