When representatives from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration conduct their regular safety site inspections, they are looking for full compliance with all federal safety regulations. This is a simple enough requirement; all worksites ought be following national law in order to keep their employees safe and their records free from citations and fines. However, OSHA acknowledges that they cannot actually inspect all 7 million worksites subject to their coverage every year. The administration must rank inspection needs by severity and make judgment calls about which workplaces need inspections more than others.
In order to help employers and site managers best prepare for the possibility of an OSHA inspection, the group has published a fact sheet about inspection practices and procedures. This fact sheet includes a list of the six main priorities that OSHA inspectors across the nation consider when deciding what sites deserve or require an inspection.
According to the sheet, those priorities are as follows:
- Imminent danger situations: hazards that could cause death or serious physical harm receive top priority. Compliance officers will ask employers to correct these hazards immediately or remove endangered employees.
- Severe injuries and illnesses: employers must report:
- All work-related fatalities within 8 hours.
- All work-related inpatient hospitalizations, amputations, or losses of an eye within 24 hours.
- Worker Complaints: allegations of hazards or violations also receive a high priority. Employees may request anonymity when they file complaints.
- Referrals of hazards: from other federal, state or local agencies, individuals, organizations or the media receive consideration for inspection.
- Targeted inspections: inspections aimed at specific high-hazard industries or individual workplaces that have experienced high rates of injuries and illnesses also receive priority.
- Follow-up inspections: checks for abatement of violations cited during previous inspections are also conducted by the agency in certain circumstances.