Ways you can prepare your business for an OSHA visit

Added June 25, 2021
Two men working inside a greenhouse

A visit from an OSHA inspector can help you reaffirm your commitment to workplace safety. As you identify opportunities to improve, the end result of the visit should be a safer and healthier workplace for you and your employees.

Below, we explain why OHSA might visit your greenhouse or floral shop, and what you can expect during an inspection. We also share steps you can take to help make the inspection process run more smoothly and successfully.

Why OSHA might visit your business

According to Zach Bruce, safety services manager of Hortica®, a majority of OSHA visits are unannounced. However, it might not surprise you if they visit your workplace.

“One reason an OSHA inspector might visit your business is because of instances of serious injuries or illnesses at your business,” Bruce said. “Other reasons might be complaints from your employees or referrals from other agencies, such as first responders.”

Another factor resulting in an OSHA visit could be an executive order signed in January 2021, which emphasizes protecting worker health and safety. While this order primarily focuses on safety surrounding COVID-19, it does direct OSHA to increase enforcement of its agency standards. The current administration has also vowed to increase the number of OSHA inspectors, which could lead to a greater number of worksite inspections.

What you can expect during an onsite OSHA visit

An OSHA visit usually encompasses four main components:

  • Presentation of credentials
  • Opening conference
  • Facility walk-through
  • Closing conference

Presentation of credentials

When the OSHA inspector—referred to as a compliance safety and health officer by OSHA—arrives at your worksite, they will begin by presenting you with their credentials, including a photograph and serial number. We recommend you verify the identity of the compliance officer by calling your local OSHA office.

Opening conference

During the opening conference, the inspector will explain the reason for their visit, outline what will take place during the inspection, define their role in the inspection, and share your obligations as an employer. The inspector might also request certain business records or documents, especially if their visit is related to specific incidents at your business.

Facility walk-through

The primary focus of the visit is a walk-through of your facilities, as the inspector looks for hazardous conditions that could lead to or have caused employee injuries or illnesses. The walk-through will be limited to areas covered by the inspection details and the compliance officer will try to minimize work interruptions during their inspection.

During a walk-through, the inspector might take photos, videos, measurements, or even environmental samples. They may also point out apparent violations you can immediately correct. If you can make corrections immediately—before the conclusion of the visit—it shows good faith on your part.

“While violations are still required to be cited, we’ve seen many instances where the citation dollar amount is reduced because they were addressed immediately,” Bruce said.

Closing conference

During this conference, the inspector will meet with you and your employee representatives to review their findings and describe actions you can take in response. They may also discuss consultation services and employee rights with you at this time.

Phone/fax OSHA inspections

In some cases involving lower-priority hazards, OSHA may conduct a phone interview to discuss health and safety issues instead of making an in-person visit to your business.

After the call, OSHA will follow up with you via fax, providing further details on any alleged safety and health hazards. Within the specified time period, you’ll need to provide a written response identifying any problems with the findings, and the corrective actions you’ve taken or intend to take. If your response is deemed adequate, it’s unlikely OSHA will conduct an in-person visit involving these issues.

What you can do to prepare for an OSHA visit 

One of the best ways you can prepare for an OSHA visit is reviewing and following OSHA laws and regulations for your industry. Incorporate them into your company’s safety plan, and take a proactive safety approach in reducing possible hazards.

Here are other ways you can prepare for an OSHA visit:

  • Conduct in-house safety inspections as part of your safety program to help your employees stay safe and help ensure you’re OSHA-compliant
  • Implement an employee safety training program that includes initial and ongoing safety training
  • Review your safety program regularly (at least annually) to address potential lapses and identify new hazards as your business evolves
  • Designate a point of contact that’s familiar with all aspects of your operations and knows what to do when an OSHA inspector arrives
  • Identify other employees as alternatives if the primary point of contact isn’t available
  • Keep your safety documents and records up to date and easily accessible, including OSHA’s work-related injury and illness recordkeeping forms: OSHA Forms 300, 300A, and 301

What you should do during an OSHA inspection

You and your employees should always treat the inspector as you would a customer—be courteous and attentive to questions. You should also:

  • Take notes: This way, you can quickly address concerns and potential hazards.
  • Ask questions: It’s important you understand potential issues and how to address them.
  • Follow the instructor’s lead: Take the same photos or videos the inspectors does or ask for copies of what they record. This helps you identify the potential hazards you might otherwise overlook.

We can help you

Remember, you’re not alone in this process. Our safety services and loss control teams can perform safety audits and provide guidance to help you ensure you meet OSHA standards.

We can also help you institute a loss control program to help you mitigate risks and help keep you, your customers, and your employees safe. Contact us—we’re ready to help your business.

Related links:

You can help reduce your workplace risks by cleaning up your property, preforming scheduled maintenance on your equipment, and regularly reviewing your safety procedures. Learn more tips here.

Your business insurance policy should evolve as your operations and risks change. Use our insurance renewal checklist to help you analyze where your business has changed.

If you suffer a loss, follow these five tips when reporting your claim to help get your claim started, processed, and settled more quickly.

 

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