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5 Things to do if OSHA Knocks at your door…

“Knock, knock.”

“Who’s there?”

“OSHA”

“OSHA, Who?”

“Oh $hit!”

Ah, if it was only that funny. The truth is that OSHA is knocking on doors everyday. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for OSHA. There needs to be rules and regulations for a workplace enviroment. However, if you ever want to see the shop foreman’s face turn pale, jokingly tell him that OSHA has shown up. I don’t mean to crack jokes about something as serious as an OSHA inspection, so we will focus on the 5 things you should do if OSHA knocks on your door.

1. Check for Identification.

All OSHA inspection officers are goverment employees, and therefore are very well documented. When a person or persons state that they are with OSHA, ask politely for their Identification Badges. Unfortuately, there are some companies who try to sell OSHA compliance kits by scaring the owner to death with a “Had this been a real inspection, you would have been caught with your pants down, and that is why you need our services.” So once you have properly identified your inspection officer, offer them a seat in the conference room or in the breakroom. Whatever you do, do not sit them in an employee’s office or with an employee. Once you have your officer situated, move to step number 2.

2. Locate your Safety Officer!

Depending on your type of business, or how big your company is, your safety officer may be the owner, or it is the shop foreman, or it could be someone in the office. Every employee in your business should know who the safety officer is. Once you have located your safety officer, inform them that there is an OSHA inspection officer onsite in your secured location. This gives your safety officer time to gather their wits, paperwork, and throw safety glasses on before going to meet with the officer. (Granted, certain business sectors like banks, recruiting offices, and “desk job” vocations are less likely to have inspections. Most companies do not realize that no matter what they do, industrial, manufacturing, or not, all must abide to workplace regulations.)

3. Approach Your Inspection-With Confidence

From this point forward, I will be addressing the Safety Officer. Now that you have been informed that you have an inspector onsite, do a mental check and take a deep breath. Remember, these guys are not out to get you, just to make sure that you are doing the best you can to keep your employees and their work enviroment safe. Poke your head out into the production area and make sure that your employees have on their PPE (personal protection equipment), and if you see any employees without their safety equipment, make sure that they get it on before you walk the inspector through. Then grab your documentation books and head to the inspector. If you approach him/her with confidence, they will know that you have nothing to hide.

4.Keep Your Wits About You and Your Mouth Shut-

Don’t panic. After the formal introductions, let the inspector do the talking. Answer questions when asked, but keep in mind your answers before you blurt them out. When they ask for your documentation, MSDS, evacuation plans, safety minutes, have them handy to show the officer. Be calm and collective and this process (however nerve racking it may be) will go smoothly. After the documentation talk, the inspector will want to see the facility.

5. Offer the Inspection Officer Safety Equipment to Tour the Facility-

One aspect of these inspections are about is to determine if the person in charge of the employees has their best safety interest at heart at all times. With 5,703 work related deaths in 2006*, it is imperative that the supervior be on alert. So, offer the Inspector safety equipment prior to your walk thru. It works out well for both of you even when the officer turns down your PPE because they have their own, but at least they know you care now.

Now it is time for your walk thru. Take pride in the fact that you are doing everything you can to make your work enviroment a safe place to produce. If you are a little concerned that maybe you don’t quite have everything up to par, or you don’t have the documentation books up to date, give me a call. I can help you understand what your responsiblities are in your industry sector, supply you with personalized workbooks, and do a mock inspection to see how you fare. You can reach me at 1-800-285-2448 ext 706 or send me an email at joslyn@pssent.com .

*Statistic provided by http://www.osha.gov/