Sep 15, 2022

Passing a Worksite Inspection: 5-Step Guide

A worksite inspection is a standard part of almost every compliance audit. As a result, OSHA has set up numerous standards, checklists, and guides to help businesses prepare for — and pass — their inspection. For many small businesses that are new to the world of OSHA regulations, a worksite inspection can be an extremely nerve-wracking experience. However, with the right preparation, it doesn’t have to be as difficult as you think it will be. To help you get ready for your inspection, we’ve created this helpful guide offering five useful tips that will make things much easier on you when the day comes.

Know the basics before you go in

First and foremost, make sure you’re as well-versed as possible on your company’s specific compliance standards. For example, when it comes to hazard communication, you need to know what materials are classified as “hazardous” and what the correct labeling for them is. You’ll also want to know what constitutes an “appropriate” storage area and how to properly dispose of any dangerous materials. While these may seem like basic standards, it’s very common for businesses to be caught off-guard when OSHA inspectors ask about them. Having a solid knowledge of your compliance standards will help you to avoid this trap, making the entire process much smoother and less stressful for you and your workers.

Conduct a safety audit

While you’re prepping for your inspection, you should also conduct a full safety audit to make sure your facility is in proper compliance. While not every facility will need a full-blown audit, if you’ve been cited within the last five years — or if you’re audited more than once every five years — you’ll need to conduct a more thorough audit. For example, if you’ve been cited for lack of machine guarding, you’ll need to audit all of your machines to make sure they’re appropriately guarded. If you’ve been cited for lack of fall protection, you’ll need to audit your work areas to make sure each job site is properly protected from falls and that all contractors and employees are equipped with the necessary fall protection PPE. Conducting a full safety audit will help you to identify any issues that need to be addressed in order to pass your inspection. It will also give you a good idea of the kind of documentation the inspector will want to see.

Have your paper trail together

You’ve probably heard someone mention the “paper trail” at least once when discussing how to pass an OSHA inspection. But what does that mean, exactly? In short, it refers to your company’s documentation related to every citation-worthy standard. For instance, if you’ve been cited for lack of machine guarding, you’ll need documentation showing that you’ve either corrected the problem or have a valid reason for why you can’t. This documentation will come in the form of a correction notice or a certified letter from your state OSHA rep. You’ll need to have similar documentation for every citation-worthy standard, including those related to fall protection, foot traffic areas, electrical hazards, etc. Having your paper trail together will make the inspection process go much smoother and will make it easier for you to pass. Furthermore, you must ensure that you have collected all the necessary documentation from your third-party contractors. This is done to ensure that all workers on your worksite are fully compliant with required guidelines prior to inspection.

Be prepared for ergonomic assessments

The other side of this coin is a bit less straightforward. If you do get inspected by an ergonomics specialist, they will likely conduct an ergonomic assessment of your facility. This is a type of inspection that is somewhat uncommon and can be moderately stressful if you’re not prepared for it ahead of time. The main thing to keep in mind is that you need to keep your workers safe. If an ergonomic assessment finds any potential hazards — such as poor lighting, uncomfortable chairs, or a lack of adjustable workstations — you’ll need to take appropriate action to make sure that your employees are safe and healthy. It may be a good idea to check these yourself prior to an audit, and even gain feedback from your workforce as a whole. A great way to get started is by using OSHA’s Ergonomic Assessment Checklist, which will provide you with insight on exactly what to address and fix.

Get your facilities in order

Finally, you’ll also want to make sure that your facilities are in order. This means that your parking lots, sidewalks, entryways, and other walkways are clear of debris and hazards. Your stairwells and walkways should have proper signage and be free of tripping hazards. Your restrooms should be clean and free of pests and other contaminants. Your facility should be orderly and free of clutter. And, of course, your paint areas should be properly ventilated and marked. All of these items will factor into your worksite inspection, and they’ll help to make it go as smoothly and as successfully as possible.

Conclusion

Preparation is key when it comes to passing your OSHA worksite inspection. Start by familiarizing yourself with the standards that you’ll need to follow. Conduct a safety audit to identify any potential hazards and deficiencies, and take the appropriate action to correct them. Make sure that you have your paper trail together, and be prepared for ergonomic assessments. And finally, get your facilities in order to ensure that your facility is ready to pass. With these five tips, you’ll be well-prepared for whatever your OSHA inspection may bring. Furthermore, the process of working with external vendors will almost always bring on unassumed risk that you must account for. They should be factored into your worksite inspection plan to ensure that operations run smoothly. In order to have a safe and compliant workplace with contractors in it, your business should implement a contractor management software such as Contractor Compliance. It is a digital solution that helps you track, manage, and collect contractor data. Get started today to pass your next worksite inspection with flying colors!

About the Author

Addison Moore
Director of Marketing at Contractor Compliance

Addison has spent the last four years learning from and participating in the Health & Safety community. He has travelled to numerous EHS conferences, trade shows and events with the intention of helping organizations with their contractor management programs. Addison is also responsible for curating the collection of white papers, case studies and eBooks that provide real world insights into the workforce safety space.

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