This infographic about what to expect from a surprise OSHA inspection explains to business owners and managers at facilities in any industry how to handle inspections from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). These inspections occur unannounced, and when a facility is unprepared, the experience may seem confusing or stressful.

OSHA inspections contain four main parts, as shown in the infographic: the presentation of credentials by the inspector, an opening conference, a tour of the facility, and a closing conference.

During the presentation of credentials the inspector will show a photo ID with a serial number. Anyone without credentials or who asks for payment is not a legitimate inspector should be reported to OSHA.

The opening conference is when the inspector explains the reason for the inspection and how to process will work. The company should select a representative and employees should also send a representative.

After the conference, the inspector and the representatives will go on a tour of the facility. The inspector may point out problems that are easy to remedy. The company representatives should pay attention and comply with the inspector’s requests.

Finally, during the closing conference the inspector will discuss general observations. Businesses will not get a list of violations during this meeting, though. Any notices of violations and corresponding penalties will arrive by certified mail. These violations should be corrected quickly. Businesses who receive notices of violations will also have a period of time during which they can contact OSHA and set up a meeting to further discuss the situation.

Some businesses might wonder if their facility is more likely to experience an inspection than others. This depends on many factors including the location of the facility, the industry it belongs to, and the facility’s safety record. For example, OSHA often has regional emphasis programs that focus on certain hazards. As part of these programs, OSHA will target inspections so they visit more facilities that have that type of hazard. These target programs are usually put in place when a particular type of injury has seen noticeable increases at a large number of workplaces.

Some industries are also inherently more dangerous than others, so an OSHA inspector might be more likely to visit a manufacturing facility than an office. Additionally, if a facility has had safety violations in the past or if the company reports an injury to OSHA, an inspector may be sent out to investigate. It’s also possible for an employee to report a hazard to OSHA, which could prompt an inspection.

Because of this variety of factors, some businesses may see OSHA inspectors more than once and some may never see an inspector. Combined, federal OSHA and state-run OSHA programs have about 2,200 inspectors, and there are 130 million workers in the U.S. That’s a lot of workplaces compared to inspectors. That being said, OSHA can inspect any business at any time, even if a business doesn’t experience many injuries or its employees don’t face many hazards on a daily basis. Planning ahead and being aware of the information presented in this infographic will make it easier for a company to experience a smooth OSHA inspection.

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