Breaking Down the On-Site OSHA Inspection Process - Worksite Medical
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So, you know those surprise visits that seem to come out of nowhere? Well, OSHA inspections are a bit like that, but for workplaces. And thankfully, you’ll usually have a bit of time to prepare for one.

They can pop up for a variety of reasons – like when OSHA decides it’s time to check out places known for being unsafe or unhealthy, or when there’s an urgent situation like a safety hazard or a complaint from a worker.

To prepare for an OSHA inspection, companies should ensure proper documentation of safety training records, hazard assessments, safety meeting records, and certifications. During the inspection, compliance officers will conduct a walkthrough inspection, employee interviews, and a closing conference to discuss violations and corrective actions.

To proactively manage worker safety, companies should adopt a safety-centric culture and leverage technology to monitor and measure workplace hazards, such as noise, air contamination, and other hazardous substances.

By prioritizing safety and adopting proactive strategies, companies can significantly reduce risks, align with OSHA standards, and contribute to a safer, healthier workplace.

Let’s break it down.


Related Article: Proposed Rule Change for Workplace Inspections: What You Need to Know (Updated)

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OSHA On-Site Inspection: What to Expect


OSHA’s authority covers more than 130 million workers across eight million worksites.

One of the ways the agency accomplishes its mission — to ensure the health and safety of workers — is to conduct inspections of the most hazardous workplaces.


Types of OSHA inspections

  • Complaint-based inspections
  • Scheduled inspections
  • Inspections triggered by visible hazards
  • Invitational inspections
  • Incident or injury-triggered inspections.


The OSHA inspection process is prioritized as follows:

  • Imminent danger situations
  • Severe illnesses and injuries – such as fatalities, hospitalizations, amputations or losses of an eye
  • Worker complaints
  • Referrals – from agencies, individuals, organizations, or media
  • Targeted inspections – such as specific high-hazard industries or individual workplaces with high rates of illnesses and injuries
  • Follow-up inspections

Once OSHA schedules a workplace inspection, the process is basically the same across the board.

In preparation for the inspection, an OSHA Compliance Safety and Health Officer (CSHO) will:

  • Research the worksite’s OSHA inspection history, operations and processes, and the applicable OSHA standards, and
  • Gather appropriate personal protective equipment and testing instruments to measure potential hazards.


The Primary Phases of an OSHA Inspection


*Video created and published by OSHA

The inspection is then conducted in 4 primary phases:

  • Preparation and initial arrival
  • Opening conference
  • Walk-around
  • Closing conference


Preparation and Initial Arrival


Before an inspector’s site visit, they gather essential background details about a site, including its history of inspections, operational processes, and relevant OSHA regulations.

Upon arrival, the inspector verifies their identity to the company, signaling the official commencement of the inspection. In certain instances, OSHA may opt for a remote inspection via phone or fax for less urgent hazards that can be swiftly rectified or do not pose immediate risks, like minor electrical issues or signage non-compliance.

Following OSHA’s remote assessment, the employer must provide a written response within five working days, outlining identified issues and detailing corrective actions taken or planned. If the response meets requirements and satisfies the complainant, OSHA typically foregoes an on-site inspection.


Opening Conference


The opening conference includes an introduction by the CSHO, covering the reason for the inspection, the scope of the inspection, and the process to be used during the inspection.

The typical process includes a workplace walk-around and private interviews with a reasonable number of employees. Representatives of the company, and if desired, employee representatives, are designated to accompany the CSHO throughout the inspection.




While walking around the workplace, the CSHO, accompanied by the company and employee representative(s), will inspect and evaluate the workplace for compliance with applicable OSHA standards.

For example, the officer may look to see if the required “OSHA Job Safety and Health: It’s the Law” poster is conspicuously displayed in commonly attended area. Also, if personal protective equipment (PPE) is provided to workers, the inspector will inquire about a respiratory protection program. Noise levels and airborne concentrations of contaminants may also be measured.

OSHA’s CSHO may privately ask workplace employees if they are aware of any persons being injured on the job. They may also ask if the employees have any suggestions for making their working conditions safer.


Closing Conference


A closing conference is then held to review and discuss the OSHA inspection findings.

Even if some violations were found during the walk-around and corrected immediately, the OSHA compliance officer must include the findings in the closing conference and final report. Potential corrective procedures and reasonable timelines for correction of alleged violations, as well as available OSHA resources, are also discussed.


After an OSHA Inspection


A formal OSHA inspection report is prepared by the CSHO and sent to an OSHA area director.

The area director then makes decisions on citations, penalties, abatement dates, and other inspection-related information. If a violation is found, a “Citation and Notification of Penalty” will be issued to the employer.

Employers can request an informal conference or choose to formally contest any alleged violations, resulting fines and/or penalties. The details and timing of an employer’s responsibilities are outlined in OSHA Standard CFR Part 1903.19.

With a complainant’s permission, OSHA may decide to follow-up on low severity hazard complaints by contacting the complainant’s employer by telephone. Following a telephone investigation, an employer must respond to a subsequent fax from OSHA within five working days.

If the employer’s response satisfactorily addresses OSHA’s concerns, an on-site OSHA inspection is not likely to be conducted.


OSHA Inspection Outcomes

  1. Citations and Penalties
  2. Abatement Period
  3. Informal Conference
  4. Contesting Citations
  5. Abatement Verification
  6. Follow-Up Inspections
  7. Employee Notification
  8. Training and Improvements

For more information about OSHA inspection procedures, compliance assistance resources such as training courses and no-cost confidential on-site consultations, visit or call 800-321- OSHA (6742).


Bringing It Together


Employers play a crucial role in promptly addressing OSHA inspection findings, implementing corrective measures, and fostering transparent communication with OSHA during the resolution process.

By proactively ensuring continuous compliance with safety regulations long before an OSHA inspection occurs, companies can preemptively mitigate potential issues and cultivate a workplace that prioritizes safety and well-being.

This proactive approach not only minimizes risks but also fosters a culture of safety that is ingrained in daily operations, ultimately contributing to a safer and more productive work environment.




About Worksite Medical

In most cases, OSHA requires medical surveillance testing, and at no cost to employees.

Worksite Medical makes that program easier with mobile medical testing.

We conduct on-site respirator fit tests, as well as pulmonary function test and heavy metal lab work, right on your job site. We also keep accurate, easy-to-access medical records for your convenience. You’ll keep your employees at work, and stay ahead of OSHA inspections.

With Worksite Medical, a mobile medical testing unit — we can bring all the resources of a lab to you. Our certified lab technicians can perform both qualitative and quantitative respirator tests to ensure a perfect fit.

Protect your team and your workplace now with Worksite Medical. Not sure what you need? Try our medical testing wizard here.

Give us a call at 1-844-622-8633, or complete the form below to schedule an on-site visit or to get your free quote!

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