According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, employers must provide a workplace free from recognized hazards. The odds are probably slim that an OSHA inspector would show up at your operation, but it’s better to be proactively prepared. Certainly any on-the-job death requires an OSHA inspection, but injuries or a request also can trigger a visit.

Here are a few tips on ways to handle the inspection from the Business and Legal Reports; Glenn Tjaden, consultant with GST Services, Webster City, Iowa; and the National Pork Board.

  • Designate an informed company leader or representative as the contact person during an inspection.
  • Have a second person from your staff present during the entire OSHA visit.
  • Ask the OSHA official for credentials, as well as a copy of the inspection order.
  • Determine what prompted the visit (such as a complaint or a random selection.)- Determine the inspection’s scope and limit it to those areas.
  • Escort the official directly to the involved areas and no others.
  • Accompany the official during the entire inspection and any time he/she is inside your business organization.
  • Listen politely without commenting.
  • Take thorough notes during the inspection, including conversations.
  • Provide any requested records and no others.
  • Document everything that OSHA inspects; take pictures (polaroids) of anything the official photographs.
  • Avoid making any unnecessary statement regarding any violations, the company’s business or operations, or safety programs that you have in place.
  • Hold a closing conference with the inspector to summarize problems, deadlines and other necessary details.
  • Organize all notes taken during the inspection immediately after the closing conference.
  • Behave courteously and professionally during all interactions.
  • Instruct all involved employees to answer the official’s questions directly and honestly, but to avoid expounding, rambling or offering additional information.