Occupational Safety and Health Administration, otherwise known as OSHA, visits can be intimidating for many small business owners. They do not have to be though. Knowing what to expect makes all the difference in the world. It also helps you properly prepare for the visit so your small business passes inspection with flying colors.
Why Does OSHA Visit Small Businesses?
According to Grainger, there are two reasons OSHA conducts inspections: “To conduct a programmed inspection or an un-programmed inspection. A programmed inspection is when the inspection is scheduled due to selection criteria by OSHA. This criteria may be injury rates, death rates, exposure to toxic substances or a high amount of lost workdays for the type of industry you are in. An un–programmed inspection can come from one of three prioritized occurrences.”
These three prioritized occurrences include:
1) Imminent danger suspicions
2) Investigation of fatalities
3) Investigate formal complaints provided by employees
What Can You do to Prepare?
Begin by getting your workplace in order. Conduct a safety inspection of your own. Revisit your existing safety plan. Does everything in your company measure up or is there room for improvement in order to meet the demands of safety for your business?
Look around for potential hazards and possible solutions. The key to making OSHA happy is to provide a safe and healthy workplace for your employees. Finally, make sure your employees have adequate training regarding safety equipment and safety protocols. If necessary, conduct safety drills to verify that every employee knows the proper procedure in the event of an emergency.
Is Resistance Futile?
Take the time to learn what your rights as a business owner are as well, advises Link Staffing Services. You may request a warrant rather than acquiescing to the original notice of inspection. However, requesting a warrant may open your workplace up to further scrutiny than the original inspection would have merited.
The same holds true for supplying supporting documents to OSHA inspectors. It’s true that you could demand a subpoena, but there’s rarely a good reason to deny these documents. Simply ask that OSHA provides you with a list of the specific documents they want and supply only the documents included in the list. There’s no reason to offer documentation that wasn’t requested.
Appoint a Specific Contact Person for the Inspection
It’s never a good idea to allow OSHA inspectors randomly approach employees. You need to appoint a contact person who is well versed in your safety protocols, knows the facility well, and is able to handle the situation with in a calm manner. More importantly, this person should have some training for how to deal with OSHA and, according to Compass Health and Safety, have a trained alternate in case he or she can’t be there on the day of the inspection.
Safety in the workplace is important. OSHA inspections can serve as a reminder for business owners just how important safety is or can become a potential problem for businesses to deal with. The choice is yours how you approach these inspections, but a positive spin is almost always the preferred method.