In 2021, OSHA conducted over 24,000 inspections. About 57% of these inspections were unprogrammed. This means OSHA inspected over 13,000 job sites without the employer having any prior knowledge of the visit.
Unprogrammed inspections are typically conducted in response to alleged hazardous working conditions. For example, OSHA may conduct an unprogrammed inspection to address imminent dangers on a job site, in response to a fatality, or based on a worker complaint.
The remaining 43% of inspections conducted were programmed. These inspections focused on industries and operations where known hazards exist.
It is critical to be prepared for OSHA inspections. First, you need to know what OSHA is looking for when a compliance officer visits a job site. This means understanding OSHA standards and your organization’s obligation to maintain compliance.
Second, you need to be ready to provide documentation demonstrating how your business is taking every action possible to identify job site hazards, train employees to recognize them, and taking action to prevent injuries from occurring.
Here are the top 5 reasons to document safety inspections:
- Inspections identify existing or potential hazards. By conducting and documenting inspections, you are practicing hazard control. You are constantly examining your job site to identify hazards and eliminate them, or to develop systems for effectively preventing them. This reduces the potential for worker injuries to occur on your job site.
- OSHA requires you to maintain a record of all inspections. Employers must “…make, keep and preserve, and make available…records regarding his activities relating to this Act….” Documenting your inspections meets this requirement and prepares you to share it with OSHA if your job site is inspected.
- Inspections provide actionable information and historical data. Documenting inspections provides you with a record of hazard identification procedures and outcomes. You can cross-reference the job site’s accident history with inspection data to identify areas for improvement.
- Inspections reveal employee training needs. Documenting your inspections provides insight into areas where more worker training is needed. If OSHA inspects your job site, one of the first questions an incident investigator will ask is, “Did the employee receive adequate training to do the job?” Documentation of both your inspections and subsequent training can help demonstrate your efforts to prevent worker injuries.
- Safety inspections demonstrate management commitment to safety. Inspections enable you to find and fix hazards. This shows your employees the importance of safety to your organization. Documenting these procedures enables you look back over time and answer questions like: How effective are my safety and health programs? How engaged are the workers in the program? What additional safety training is needed?
Employing an Employee Health and Safety Management software is the best method to manage safety standards, your safety programs, documentation, and employee training. It removes the guess work from managing the compliance of your business.
For example, when inspections reveal recurring issues with harnesses, additional fall protection training can be immediately assigned to the appropriate workers. New employees can also be assigned an online OSHA 10-hour Outreach Training course to learn essential safety information before they begin work.
To learn more about TPC's EHS Management Solutions, register for a free demonstration.
About the author:
Taylor Sikes is a safety professional with over 15 years of experience. He has served as an OSHA-authorized trainer for construction and general industry, holds a Master of Arts degree from the University of Georgia, and has authored numerous courses in workplace safety.