By: Shane Stuller

The Obama administration has put the teeth back in OSHA's bite and, even worse; many companies remain unprepared for a surprise visit from an OSHA compliance officer. Is your company one of them?

A visit from OSHA can be unwelcome and unsettling, but it need not be. By planning and preparing in advance, employers can minimize their discomfort over the pending inspection and obtain more control over the event. Would you know what to say and, even more importantly, what not to say in the event of a surprise inspection? Do you know your legal rights? Do you have a program in place for preparing for the inevitable drop-in before it happens?

If so, that's great. But if you answered "no" to one or more of the above questions, Safety Resources can help get you up to speed. Planning for an inspection in advance makes an inspection go smoother, allows you to be in control of the inspection, creates a positive impression on the compliance officer, and results in fewer violations. Our team of professionals will help your organization properly prepare for when OSHA comes knocking at the door.

Our comprehensive training will address a wide range of subject matter and help answer any questions you might have regarding an OSHA inspection, such as:

• Inspection Team - Who will communicate with the compliance officer?
• The Basics - What are likely areas of concern before the inspection?

 Training Documentation?
 Hazard Communication?
 Emergency Preparedness & Evacuation Procedures?
 Posting Requirements?

• Documentation - What documents should be provided? What information should be shared?
• Employee Interviews - Are your employees prepared to answer questions from the compliance officer?
• Compliance Officer Arrival - Should you ask for credentials? Who directs the conversation?
• Purpose & Scope of Inspection - Do you have the right to know why OSHA is inspecting?
• Opening & Closing Conference - What questions should you ask? How will you address deficiencies?
• Facility Walk-Through - Should you note the compliance officer’s observations? Should you dispute whether something is a violation?
• Following Inspection - What should you expect after the compliance officer addresses his/her concerns?

In theory, OSHA inspections do not need a reason to happen. An organization can be visited at any time by a compliance officer who need not have a reason to show up other than the fact that the workplace is covered by federal safety regulations.

If you have not had an OSHA inspection in many years (if ever), it may be tempting to be less than 100 percent rigorous about compliance with all OSHA rules. The effort to train new or transferred employees can be burdensome, especially as other pressures increase in our stressed economy.

But you should never assume that your employees are so skilled or knowledgeable that they don’t need more training. And it’s dangerous to assume that employees are so well protected that they would never report a potential violation or hazardous situation to OSHA.

To avoid unnecessarily triggering an inspection, and to be prepared should an inspection occur, you need an effective compliance plan. Fortunately, Safety Resources possesses the expertise you need to develop an effective compliance plan, maintain a safe workplace, and prepare successfully for an OSHA inspection.