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All U.S. employers are subject to unscheduled inspections by a Compliance Officer from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).  Is your company prepared for such a visit that will address your compliance with federal safety regulations? Preparation is the key to ensuring a smooth inspection process and avoiding costly citations for violations.  Generally, it is prudent to establish a formal protocol in conjunction with legal counsel for such inspections, but here are a few points to consider:

  • First and foremost, remain calm. While it may be nerve-wracking to have a Compliance Officer show up unannounced, becoming defensive or argumentative will only complicate the issue. Aim to be courteous towards the Officer.
  • Make sure to confirm the Compliance Officer’s identity and purpose for the visit.  Ask for credentials and inquire about the reason for the visit.
  • Consider establishing guidelines for reception staff to use when a Compliance Officer arrives.
  • Designate a knowledgeable representative to accompany the Compliance Officer throughout the inspection. This representative should be well-versed in safety policies and procedures and able to answer any questions the Officer may have.
  • The employer representative should take notes throughout the inspection to document any observations or findings made by the Compliance Officer. If the Officer takes photographs or videos, it is wise for the representative to do the same.
  • Ensure that documents such as OSHA postings and OSHA Forms 300, 301, and 300A are prepared and retained so they can quickly be located.
  • Employee safety is a top priority for employers, and regular safety training can not only help prevent accidents but also reduce the risk of a Compliance Officer identifying violations that may lead to a citation.

Preparation for unannounced OSHA visits is key to ensuring the best possible outcome for your company.  If you have any questions about how to prepare, contact your labor & employment counsel or our office at 806-468-3300.


Article by Iwana Rademaekers
Labor & Employment Practice
Sprouse Shrader Smith PLLC