OSHA inspections: What does OSHA investigate and how does it prepare?

Recently we’ve been discussing how important it is for employers to prepare and post their OSHA logs of recordable employee injuries and illnesses from the previous calendar year by the February 1 deadline. In order to maintain compliance with OSHA, however, it’s important to understand the intricacies of how the organization operates. In this two-part series,we will focus on how the federal safety organization conducts investigations.

Most of the time, OSHA’s compliance safety and health officers will show up for an inspection without providing advance notice, though employers have the right to request an inspection warrant.

What can lead to an OSHA investigation?

Since there’s no way for OSHA to visit every workplace, there’s a list of priorities that inspectors follow to make sure they are addressing the most serious hazards. Imminent situations and fatalities top the list, as one might assume, since these incidents are often the most dire. If there are hazards within a workplace that could cause death or physical harm, it’s important to have them eliminated immediately, and also essential for employers to record any deaths or injuries that may have occurred.Also on the list of inspection priorities‚Äčare the following, in this order: complaints, referrals, follow-ups and planned or programmed investigations.

How does OSHA prepare for an investigation?

Before conducting an inspection, OSHA compliance officers prepare themselves by researching the history of hazardous incidents at the worksite and reviewing the operations and processes in place. They also acquire all the protective and testing equipment needed to make the investigation go as smoothly as possible. When they show up to the workplace, they present their credentials and explain why they are there.

Next in this series, we’ll focus on what happens during the actual investigation, so stay tuned.