Creating a safe work environment is an essential part of any business and one that must be taken seriously to ensure employee well-being. To that end, businesses are required to adhere to strict standards when it comes to occupational safety and health. Under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Standards, businesses must meet specific requirements to operate safely as well as protect their employees from potential hazards. If you fail to meet those thresholds, OSHA will conduct an inspection and issue citations if they find violations. Fortunately, this doesn’t mean your business is doomed, but it does mean you should take the process seriously and put measures in place to prevent future violations. In this blog post, we’ll talk about what OSHA inspections look for, what you can do when OSHA comes calling at your business, and how you can create an effective plan moving forward.
What Does an OSHA Inspector Look For?
One of the main things an OSHA inspector will look for is whether or not your business has a program in place to meet workplace safety standards. As we mentioned above, businesses are required to maintain a safe environment and protect employees from potential hazards. Putting a safety program in place is one way to ensure OSHA compliance. In addition to evaluating your safety program, OSHA will also ensure your business is compliant when it comes to training, recordkeeping and providing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). When it comes to training, OSHA expects businesses to make sure employees are familiar with the hazards they’re dealing with as well as the procedures for handling those hazards. When it comes to recordkeeping, OSHA expects businesses to have a written plan in place for monitoring injuries and illnesses that occur in the workplace. Additionally, OSHA expects employers to provide each employee with appropriate PPE to protect them from recognized hazards.
How to Respond When OSHA Comes to Your Business
You don’t have much time to respond. As an employer, you have just 15 days from the day the inspector shows up at your door to respond to the citations issued. While you can respond later, the sooner you act on the citations, the better your chances of getting a reduction in penalties. While you can choose to go to court, the vast majority of businesses choose to enter into a settlement agreement with OSHA rather than go to court. A settlement agreement is an agreement between the business and OSHA to correct the hazards identified by the inspector. When OSHA issues citations, they’ll also issue what is called a “Notice of Violation” that outlines the citations and the penalties associated with those citations. The notice of violations will contain specific instructions for how to proceed. Typically, you will have 15 days to respond to the citations, though they should be kept in mind as soon as the inspector leaves your business.
Create an Effective Safety Program
If your business is facing a large number of citations, you may want to consider creating an effective safety program to reduce the number of violations. In many cases, OSHA will allow for corrections to be made if you have an effective safety program in place. Osha.gov recommends that businesses take the following steps when creating an effective safety program:
- First, businesses should develop clear policies and procedures that identify the hazards and how employees can work with those hazards.
- Second, businesses should identify the people who are responsible for implementing the safety program and make sure those people receive the training they need to do their jobs.
- Third, businesses should make sure people know what the policies and procedures are and how to follow them.
- Finally, businesses should make sure they have the necessary resources in place to keep their safety program effective.
If You’re Overwhelmed, We Can Help
OSHA inspections are a regular part of running a business and are designed to protect employee safety and health, but they don’t have to be scary. By putting safety measures in place and responding to citations when they are issued, you can protect your business and your employees. Beyond basic safety measures, you can also consider hiring an occupational safety and health consultant, like us at EHS Management, to help you navigate the process and stay on top of your safety program. We can help you create an effective safety program and navigate the process of responding to inspections when they’re issued. With the help of an OSHA consultant, you can ensure your business is compliant and that your employees are safe.