If an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspector showed up today, would you be ready? Here are some practical steps that can help you prepare:
• Get organized. One individual—ideally your safety director, site foreman, or other manager—should act as your company’s spokesperson during an OSHA inspection. Assign another employee to take notes and photos of anything the inspector records.
• Be proactive. Bring along several workers with tool belts. If the inspector finds simple problems, fix them immediately.
• Get your papers ready. Be sure your records are complete, current, and close at hand. This includes OSHA forms (especially Form 300A) for current and previous years; Material Safety Data Sheets for every chemical on site; a copy of your safety program or injury prevention plan; and records of safety training, internal inspections, and safety committee meetings.
• Know how to respond. An OSHA inspector could decide to interview workers, so make sure all employees know what to do. They should answer all questions directly and honestly—but remind them to just stick to the facts and avoid offering opinions.
Of course, the most important preparation is to maintain a safe jobsite. One important component of that is effective safety training on a range of topics, including:
• Recognizing hazards. All employees should understand the inherent dangers involved in working at heights, trenching, entering confined spaces, and using machinery or hazardous materials.
• Best practices. Train workers in the safe ways to perform virtually every task, from the simplest to the most complex.
• Accident response. Make sure site workers know the appropriate actions to take in an accident or emergency.
• Safety equipment and protective gear. Teach the proper use of personal protective gear, lockout/tagout systems, and other equipment.
• Hazardous materials and labeling. Enforce the rules about labeling chemicals and other materials.
Begin safety training before any new employee sets foot on the job, and then continually update and document every component, including daily “tailgate” or “toolbox” sessions.