Comply with safety and health guidelines for the workplace using OSHA inspection checklists. Learn step by step how to implement them in your company.
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OSHA inspection checklists are documents used to ensure that a workplace is compliant with all the safety and health guidelines by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). This involves both OSHA self-inspection checklists and the checklist used during formal inspections.
OSHA usually conducts safety inspections due to the requests and complaints filed by workers about their unsafe work environment. And, usually, complaints are collected and arranged into a formal inspection request by the workers' union.
After receiving a formal request, OSHA may conduct a thorough or partial inspection depending on the nature of the complaints they received. If a violation against safety and health protocols is found, OSHA will issue a citation to fix the violation and penalties.
However, please note that this procedure only applies to entities covered by the OSHA. If not, then the request for an inspection may not be honored.
After receiving and analyzing the formal request for inspection from the union of workers, OSHA will then make a list of what to focus on during the inspection. Doing so will ensure that time usage is efficient for both the employees and employers. This will especially benefit OSHA since they have many inspection requests to handle, and they need effective management to carry out their duties.
Below is the order of priority of which OSHA prioritizes requests for inspection:
Due process is involved before, during, and after conducting an OSHA inspection. Below are the steps involved in the whole inspection process. Also, take note that one or more steps might be removed depending on the nature of the priority it falls in.
The first step in the process of OSHA inspection is calling for an inspection. This may either be from the union of workers collecting complaints and filing an official request. Or government officials are filing a referral to inspect a specific entity. Calling OSHA is the best way to request an inspection for emergency complaints aside from submitting a formal complaint form.
Depending on the contents of the complaint, OSHA may prefer to investigate by sending a fax to the employer inquiring about the mentioned hazard in the complaint letter. But if the complaint specifies the need for an actual inspection, then OSHA will need to do so.
After sending an official complaint letter, the union of workers that filed it must prepare for the inspection. Usually, inspections occur 30 days after sending the letter of complaint.
To prepare for the inspection, OSHA recommends workers who filed a complaint review the OSHA standards and submitted complaint letters. Also, it is recommended to prepare their comments that they'll give to the inspectors and select a worker representative that will accompany the inspector during the inspection.
Upon the arrival of the OSHA inspector at the workplace, the inspection will start by holding a brief opening conference with the management representative and worker representative. During the meeting, the inspector will explain the purpose of the inspection and state all the hazards mentioned in the complaint letter.
After the opening conference, the inspector, management representative, and worker representative will check the alleged safety and health hazards mentioned in the complaint letter. The inspector will then determine if the suspected hazards are worthy of concern and correction using the safety inspection checklist. Depending on the inspector's decision, they may continue to inspect other facilities that were not mentioned in the complaint letter.
During the walkaround, the inspector also has the right to interview publicly or privately any employees. Depending on the circumstances, the inspector may also interview employees outside the workplace and after working hours.
Aside from the OSHA inspection checklists, the inspectors may also have instruments to measure hazards such as fumes, dust, and noise. The employer and employees are required to cooperate during the usage of these testing instruments.
The closing conference is conducted after the walkaround, and this will be the time for the inspector to discuss all the "apparent violations" found during the inspection. Also, the inspector will state all the recommendations on how to address these "apparent violations," such as paying fines, correcting hazards, and meeting deadlines to correct these violations.
After the inspection, OSHA may issue citations and penalties to the employers whose violations were found against OSHA standards and guidelines. It may take OSHA a maximum of six months to issue a citation.
Self-inspection checklists are a guide provided by OSHA and state governments that aims to guide employers on making the workplace safe for their workers.
OSHA recommends self-inspections to ensure that the workplace is safe and that workers' health is protected. That is why it is recommended to use the OSHA Inspection Checklist General Industry to serve as a guide during self-inspection and can be found on the OSHA website.
The questions in the OSHA self-inspection checklists are easy to understand. They are all about health programs, safety protocols, usage of PPE, handling of volatile materials, ease of access, and security. Although following this checklist does not cover all the avenues of safety that may be brought up during inspection, this will significantly improve the workplace's safety and lessen the possible violations found.
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