What to Do in the Event of a Cal /OSHA Inspection

Do you have a Cal/OSHA inspection coming up? Are you wondering what to do about it?

OSHA inspections can help reduce the risk of on-the-job-hazards that lead to illness, injury, or even death. During an OSHA inspection, an OSHA  official will show up to your building and inspect the premises to make sure everything is up to code. 

As an employee, if your employer is covered by the Occupational Health and Safety Act, you have the right to request an inspection on your own. 

Whether you’re an employer or employee, it’s essential to understand what happens in the event of an inspection. Read on to find out. 

Related: Pricing for Arrow Up Safety Programs 

What is OSHA?

OSHA is the Occupational Health and Safety Administration. It is a large regulatory agency that is part of the United States Department of Labor

Congress founded OSHA in 1970 with the goal of creating safer and healthier working conditions for the American worker. In addition to setting and enforcing workplace safety standards, OSHA also provides training, education, outreach, and assistance. 

Thanks to OSHA, fatality and injury rates have fallen dramatically since its founding. Since the passing of the OSHA Act in 1971, the workplace injury report rate has dropped from 11 per every 100 workers in 1972 to just 3.6 for every 100 workers in 2009. 

While an OSHA inspection can be scary, ultimately, it’ll help make your building a safer place to work

Related: Protecting Worker Safety and Job Security During COVID-19

What is an OSHA Inspection?

OSHA Compliance

OSHA inspectors need to follow precise guidelines during each inspection to make sure they’re complying with the law. Here’s what the inspection process looks like:

Receiving Complaints 

The OSHA conducts tens of thousands of inspections each year, and they receive even more inspection requests. For example, in 2016, OSHA performed 31,948 inspections

OSHA receives complaints by phone, email, or fax. They carefully review each inspection complaint, and they prioritize the most serious complaints first. Here’s how they prioritize complaints:

  1. Situations of imminent danger: i.e., a hazard that could cause death or severe injury
  2. Severe illnesses or injuries: This includes hospitalizations within 24 hours and death within eight hours 
  3. Worker Complaints: Allegations received by an employee
  4. Referrals: Referrals received from individuals, organizations, or federal, state, or local agencies 
  5. Targeted inspections: These are inspections aimed at high-hazard industries
  6. Follow-up inspections 

If OSHA considers the hazard to be low-priority, they may telephone the employer to explain the situation and resolve the issue over the phone. If the situation is more serious, an onsite investigation will occur. 


Before an OSHA inspector conducts an investigation, they’ll research the inspection history of the worksite. Before heading to the site, they’ll gather the appropriate testing instruments and personal protective equipment. 

Presenting Credentials 

When an OSHA inspector arrives at your worksite, they’ll present their credentials immediately. This will include a serial number and a photograph. 

If an inspector shows up to your site unannounced, make sure to ask for their credentials

Opening Conference 

The OSHA compliance inspector will explain to you and your employees why your worksite has been chosen for inspection. You will then be in charge of selecting a representative to walk around with the compliance officer during the inspection. Your employees may also select an authorized representative to walk around with the compliance officer if they so choose. 

The Walkaround 

After the opening conference, the OSHA inspector and representatives will walk around the worksite to search for any hazards or safety violations. 

The officer will also review worksite injury and illness records, and they’ll make sure the OSHA official poster is hanging up somewhere. 

The officer may point out some violations that can be corrected immediately during the walkaround. While the hazards must be cited, prompt correction is a sign of good faith

Closing Conference 

After the walkaround, the compliance officer will host a closing conference with you and your employees to discuss their findings. They’ll then inform you of the possible courses of action you can take in light of their findings. 

If the officer found any serious violations, they may issue a fine or citation. If you’re issued a citation, you’ll have the opportunity to meet with the OSHA Area Director to discuss the citations, penalties, and abatement dates. 

Are you looking for ways to create a more empathetic work environment during COVID-19? Click here to learn more! 

How to Prepare for an OSHA Inspection

Workplace Safety

While OSHA inspectors have the right to show up unannounced, there are still things you can do to prepare for an inspection. Here’s what you can do to help you prepare:

Assign Responsibilities

Have your designated representative assigned beforehand. This person needs to know where all of your company documents and policies that pertain to safety are located. 

You should also designate a backup person in case your first representative isn’t around when a safety inspection occurs. 

Perform Safety Training and Hazard Assessments 

For each type of job performed in the workplace, OSHA requires that you perform a job hazard analysis. You should have a form that denotes the hazards that exist for each job and what you plan to do to reduce these hazards. 

Make sure you also have an official OSHA poster visibly hanging in your workplace that describes employee rights. Also, make sure you conduct safety training courses on a regular basis for both new and veteran employees. 

Related: Arrow Up Safety Programs 

Keep Thorough Records 

It’s also vital that you document every training course your employees complete so you can show these documents to the OSHA inspector. 

Also, make sure your employees know your company’s safety policies and where they’re located. 

Are You Ready for Your OSHA Inspection? 

Now that you know what to expect for an OSHA inspection and how to prepare, you should be more than ready when an OSHA inspector walks through your doors. 

The health and safety of your employees is of utmost importance, so make the above recommendations a priority. 

Are you looking for more ways to build a safer work environment? Check out our online courses! 

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