29 Mar


Managing an OSHA Inspection

posted by: Karen Spottiswood

An OSHA inspector arrives at your door, unannounced, and wants to conduct an inspection of your workplace. What do you do?  The key to surviving an OSHA inspection is to have a process in place that assures that your organization is prepared for all of the foreseen and unforeseen things that can unfold.

Your first step in preparing for OSHA is to designate a company contact to accompany the OSHA inspector throughout their visit at your facility. The point of contact should be someone who can readily answer the inspector’s questions about the company’s safety programs, training records, and operations. Make sure everyone in the company knows who should be contacted when an OSHA inspector arrives, especially the receptionist or front desk personnel.

Another important step is to create a culture of safety.  Managers should regularly communicate to employees about workplace safety and reinforce positive behaviors.  Conduct regular inspections of your facilities and make sure you are in compliance with applicable regulations. Observe your employees and make sure they are following safe work practices. Empower workers to speak up if they see an unsafe practice or safety hazard so a correction can be made.  Address any issues right away to employees see that their safety is of the utmost importance to the company.  Ensure you are maintaining proper recordkeeping and have proper documentation readily available. This includes injury/illness logs, training records and safety programs.

Inspectors will be looking for violations of OSHA standards. Exactly what kinds of violations depend on the nature of your operations and the particular hazards of your workplace. Inspections can cover pretty much your whole facility, or they can be limited to certain areas, operations, conditions, or practices. But remember, a limited inspection can always be expanded, depending on what inspectors find once they get inside.

Here are some of the dos and don’ts to help manage an inspection.


  • Do ask for credentials
  • Do ask what the nature of the inspection is and if the inspector has a written complaint, ask to see it and copy it for your records
  • Do contact ACS (800-55-HELPS/800-554-3577); ask the inspector if he or she can wait until you’ve spoken to us before beginning the inspection
  • Do limit the inspection scope to why OSHA is there
  • Do be courteous and professional
  • Do be prepared to answer questions and show required OSHA documents
  • Do provide neutral, fact-based answers
  • Do keep detailed notes and document everything concerning the inspection
  • Do pay attention to the inspector; if they take a photo, take a photo as well
  • Do make fixes immediately; if the inspector suggests a safety fix, then stop work and correct the deficiency
  • Do be cooperative and responsive throughout the entire inspection but remember that you have certain rights
  • Do ask questions during the closing conference; if your company is being cited, aske what specific standard is being referenced and how the citation is classified


  • Don’t volunteer information; only answer the question being asked at the time
  • Don’t leave the inspector alone; accompany the inspector at all times
  • Don’t give opinions or guesses
  • Don’t argue or become defensive
  • Do not discourage employees from talking to the inspector; you have the right to sit in on all interviews
  • Don’t admit to any violations or unsafe practices

Click here for our “Helpful Hits for Finding Your Way Through an OSHA Inspection.”


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