Enforcement and Inspection, Training

Preparing for a Worksite Inspection

As a safety professional, there will come a time where all your efforts will be tested, examined, and critiqued by an external governing body. Just hearing the phrase “OSHA inspection” can bring anxiety and fear into the mix. Before you know it, you’re scrambling to find and organize all the relevant information you need to pass your audit. After all, OSHA’s decision of the effectiveness of your safety program can make or break your business. Now with their $20 million budget increase in fiscal year 2022, you can expect OSHA to be knocking on a lot more doors.

The ultimate question that this boils down to, is your business prepared for a worksite inspection? To conduct a quick self-assessment, ask yourself these three questions. Would an inspection hurt your business in any way? Would auditors uncover any violations that you’re unaware of? When was the last time you made updates to your safety program? If the answers to these questions make you restless in any way, it’s time to make some changes. In this article, we’ll outline and discuss four essential factors to help you pass an inspection successfully, and stress-free.

1. Assessing and identifying hazards

It is important to inspect your work site regularly to ensure that you are running a safe and efficient operation. The first step in making sure that your workplace is inspection-proof is simply inspecting it yourself. A good place to start when looking for areas of potential violations at work is by physically examining your space and identifying the items that may be in contravention of safety protocol. Even things that you may deem as small or insignificant may run a much larger, unforeseen risk in the future. For example, if your office has a space heater, be sure to check that it is turned off when not in use. Assessing and identifying the present hazards within your company is a crucial part of any safety program. You can easily do this by visualizing the safety program through meaningful data that reflects accident history, supply chain audits, past failed inspections, and overall buy-in of safety in the company.

2. Ensure all visitors and contractors are compliant

If you hire any third-party vendors to help you on your projects, efficient contractor management is essential. While contractors can be a great tool to complement your workforce, they also bring on extra risk for which you are accountable. Using a visitor sign-in tool or contractor management software can make the world of a difference in regard to safeguarding the efficacy of your safety standards. Anyone coming onto your site for work must be appropriately trained and onboarded, and provided with all the relevant requirements to complete the job. Furthermore, workers need to show up prepared with all required certifications and up-to-date credentials to demonstrate compliance. Documents such as licenses to operate heavy machinery, training certificates, and policy acknowledgments must all be ready to go prior to operations commencing. Ensuring that your third-party workers are compliant is one, but vital step in tying up the loose ends of your safety program prior to an inspection.

3. Ensure safety signage is up to standard

Adequate signage is an explicitly stated standard that has guidelines set out by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and is enforced by OSHA. The standards of effective signage fall under four primary principles; visibility, accessibility, transparency, and frequency. As the employer, your responsibility is to ensure that your workplace is equipped with safety signs that educate your workers on potential hazards and ensure that everyone abides by safety requirements when working. Upon inspection, any signage that is not up to standard could easily end up with a fine being issued to your business, and depending on the frequency and nature of the offense, the fine could range from anywhere in between a couple thousand dollars to over $100,000. To get a full understanding on how to prep your safety signage for a workplace inspection, head on over to this resource and learn more about all the aspects involved.

4. Ensure PPE and machines are up to standard

The leading cause of preventable workplace fatalities and injuries stem directly from unsafe practices involving worksite machinery and personal protective equipment. Furthermore, such violations are almost always on OSHA’s list of most frequently cited standards. Let’s face it, remaining complacent with the state of a disorganized and unsafe workplace is never a good idea, especially with the fear of a surprise inspection looming over the company’s head. It is important to look at every aspect of your worksite that could pose a potential hazard and determine whether you have taken the necessary precautions to mitigate the risk that you need to. A good starting point is to look at the most frequently cited standards to assess which ones apply to your business, and which ones you must take a closer look at. Here are just a few of the violations listed (for a more comprehensive list, check out OSHA’s website):

  • Fall protection: Do you have the necessary tools to prevent workers from falling from heights, is there a failsafe implemented in the event of a fall?
  • Machinery: Is all of your machinery operating at full capacity (no faults, malfunctions)? Are all of your machines with moving parts effectively machine guarded?
  • Hazard communication: Is your workforce made aware of onsite hazards through training, open communication, and signage?
  • Vehicles/moving equipment: Are all of the vehicles onsite fully operational and safe to use? Are the workers using said vehicles equipped with the necessary licenses to do so?
  • Eye and face protection: Are workers equipped with and correctly wearing the appropriate eye and face protection required for their jobs?
  • Scaffolding: Is the scaffolding onsite safe to operate in? Are workers aware of the potential hazards?

Closing remarks

Worksite inspections are a necessary part of ensuring safety for all. Using the best practices outlined above, the best thing you can do for your company is to operate as if you’re preparing for an inspection every day. This will ensure a stronger, more cohesive safety culture, make stakeholders more proactive in upholding safety standards and ensure that you’re already prepared for when the time for an official inspection does arrive.

Faris Badaro is Junior Marketing Specialist for Contractor Compliance, a SaaS software for contractor management.