Why Does OSHA Want to Inspect My Business and How Can I Prepare?
by Arina Smith Management 20 December 2017
Whenever you are in business of any kind, there is always a danger that you have overlooked something which may be a safety concern. You wouldn’t do it purposely, but there may come a time when a disgruntled employee or customer files a complaint with OSHA, the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Complaints are dealt with in two ways, most of the time, but you can be sure that the government takes safety complaints or health hazards very seriously. If OSHA has notified you that they will be conducting an on-site inspection, there are ways you can prepare to ensure you pass with flying colors.
Two Ways OSHA Deals with Complaints
As mentioned above, there are typically two ways in which OSHA deals with complaints. Depending on the nature of the complaint, they may simply do an off-site investigation, which would be the lesser of two evils. However, if the complaint is serious enough and the person filing the complaint has ample documentation to authenticate their concern, OSHA will almost always insist on an on-site inspection. This is the more serious of the two and the one you need the best preparation for. You need to thoroughly prepare for an OSHA inspection and a OSHA inspection checklist would be useful. But now, on to why OSHA might want to conduct an on-site inspection.
Common Complaints Leading to Inspections by OSHA
Typically, OSHA will begin with an off-site investigation to look at your history of compliance with safety rules and regulations. They will look at whether or not other complaints have been filed, as well as looking into the gravity of the allegations being made. If someone has been seriously injured or has died on the job, you may depend on the fact that OSHA will want to show up on your doorstep.
Common complaints which lead to inspections are serious health and safety risks and usually involve one or more people alleging to have been injured or harmed in some way due to negligence. Yes, OSHA does do routine safety inspections, but if you get one that is the result of a complaint, they will be looking through a microscope to validate or eliminate the complaint.
A Few Final Words of Advice
While you can learn how to prepare for an OSHA inspection and do your very best to prepare for it, there is always a danger that you will also have a lawsuit filed against your company. Bear in mind that some complaints are frivolous and others may be justified. Even though you have done everything in your power to keep the premises safe and secure, you are human and may have missed something important along the way. Because a lawsuit may be forthcoming, always contract the services of an attorney to defend you, both from OSHA and the complainant.
An OSHA inspection is a serious matter, whether routine or in response to a complaint. Always prepare well before the appointed day so that you are ready to pass without penalties, which can range from fines to being shut down completely. It is your responsibility to provide a safe and healthy environment for workers and customers alike. That is always the bottom line. The buck stops with you.