How to prepare for an OSHA inspection
Each year, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Washington, D.C., inspects workplaces around the country for safety and occupational hazards. In 2016 alone, OSHA conducted more than 75,000 inspections.
OSHA prioritizes its inspections based on the most hazardous workplaces. According to a fact sheet distributed by OSHA, the levels of prioritization are:
- Imminent danger situations
- Severe injuries and illnesses
- Worker complaints
- Referrals of hazards from other federal, state or local agencies, individuals, organizations or the media
- Targeted inspections (aimed at specific high-hazard industries or individual workplaces that have experienced high rates of injuries and illnesses)
- Follow-up inspections
OSHA determines which companies have the highest risk for an accident with a mathematical calculation called the DART rate, which stands for “days away, restricted or transferred.” To calculate your organization’s DART rate, you can use the following formula:
(N/EH) x 200,000
“N” is the number of cases involving days away from work, restricted work activity or job transfers due to an incident. “EH” is the total number of hours worked by all employees in the calendar year.
In the refrigerated and frozen foods industry, major violations include:
- Neglecting the refrigeration’s electrical systems
- Allowing holding temperatures to rise above 41°F
- Failing to properly clean refrigeration equipment
- And more
Worried your company could wind up on OSHA’s list? Here are four ways to ready your company for an inspection:
- Educate your team.
Programmed OSHA inspections include a full company review, an audit of company documents and interviews with both management and non-management employees. Communicate with your team about the potential inspection, and educate them on what is involved. Some insurance companies provide free consultation on OSHA preparedness and can send a representative to train managers and team members involved in the inspection.
- Organize your OSHA 300 logs.
Your company’s OSHA 300 logs should have well-maintained records of all work-related injuries and illnesses. They should be updated on a regular basis and long before you even suspect that an OSHA inspection is a threat. Familiarize yourself with what OSHA defines as a recordable injury or illness and train employees to provide detailed and accurate information on each report. These forms should be organized and easily accessible.
- Create an OSHA-inspection team.
Assign key team members to a designated team responsible for helping the rest of the company prepare and managing the inspection once the OSHA representative is on site. Their roles may range from the principal spokesperson to the document coordinator to the official escort of the OSHA inspector.
- Hold a mock inspection.
Conduct semi-regular mock inspections to identify potential health and safety issues that an OSHA inspector might find. In doing so, your company can correct any major issues long before the programmed inspection. This proactive approach will also help your company mitigate workplace hazards for the future, removing the need for an OSHA inspection entirely.
OSHA inspections can place significant stress on a company and its employees. Eliminate some of that stress by following the methods mentioned above, so you’re ready if and when OSHA calls.