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Do You Know the 5 Key Triggers for an OSHA Inspection?

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Do You Know the 5 Key Triggers for an OSHA Inspection?

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration states its mission is “to assure safe and healthful working conditions by setting and enforcing standards and providing training, outreach, education, and assistance.”

Organizations throughout the United States are facing heightened scrutiny from OSHA on both national and local levels. Inspectors are showing up and not leaving until they find a workplace health or safety issue for which they can fine the employer $15,000 or more.

As these costs keep creeping up, let’s make sure we do our best to stay off their radar.

What Can Trigger an OSHA Inspection?

OSHA conducts inspections for a few reasons. Let’s dive into the five key triggers for OSHA Inspections.

Programmed Inspections

First, through the National and Local Emphasis Programs, the agency does what it calls Programmed Inspections. Agents choose from a list of facilities that fall under the standard industrial classification code for a particular program, and then visit a facility at random.

Stay up to speed on National and Local Emphasis Programs through this in-depth article >>

Employee Complaints

Employee complaints can also trigger inspections. If one of your employees is not happy with the way things are going and chooses not to seek help internally, they can file a complaint with OSHA. Typically, if it’s not a major complaint or OSHA believes the hazard isn’t serious, you’ll receive a letter and be able to address the matter in writing. Otherwise, if the complaint seems to reflect imminent danger, it may lead to an inspection.

Here’s a deeper dive on employee complaints >>

Serious or Fatal Injuries

Whenever an employee is admitted to the hospital, suffers an amputation, or loses an eye, you’re required to report the incident within 24 hours. Fatalities must be reported within 8 hours. When an organization fails to report such an incident or fails to do so in a timely manner, an OSHA inspection usually follows.

Here’s a great flowchart on what needs to be reported to OSHA and when >>


If an inspector from the Environmental Protection Agency visits your facility, for instance, and witnesses something OSHA should investigate, they can refer the matter to OSHA.

Here are some suggestions on how to stay on the right side of EPA regulations >>

Follow-Up Inspections

Once you’ve undergone an OSHA visit, you can expect agents to return to your site to make sure you’ve completed everything.

So, what should you do if and when OSHA shows up?

We’ve written an in-depth article looking at your rights during an inspection, as well as a few strategies for ensuring things go smoothly and safeguarding your bottom line. It’s a good read >>

But, an even better strategy is to ensure OSHA has no reason to visit your facility in the first place. To avoid a citation—and the associated fines and heightened compliance costs—you’ll need to do OSHA’s job before they can. You’ll need to think like an inspector and proactively identify and correct all workplace issues, starting with the regulatory priorities outlined in OSHA’s National and Local Emphasis Programs.

Access Expert Safety Auditors + EHS Software and Training with KPA

KPA’s team has the knowledge and tools you need to keep your employees safe, minimize your risks, and maximize your organization’s performance.

KPA’s safety consultants will address safety issues at your facilities before they lead to injuries, fines, and lawsuits. Working on-siteremotely, or both, your KPA Risk Management Consultant will work with you to identify potential risks, develop programs and training, and take action to mitigate risk. Our goal is to help ensure a safe workplace for your employees through programs aligned with EPA and OSHA requirements, so your people can work at their best—while you avoid citations and potential legal action.

Plus, we provide award-winning, interactive safety training covering over 100 key topics—ranging from equipment and machine safety to industry regulations, internal policies, ethics, employment law, harassment prevention, and more.

It’s all supported by our powerful, cloud-based EHS software platform. KPA EHS helps organizations across industries maintain cultures of safety, streamline operations, and comprehensively manage risk.

About The Author

Toby Graham

Toby manages the marketing communications team here at KPA. She's on a quest to help people tell clear, fun stories that their audience can relate to. She's a HUGE sugar junkie...and usually starts wandering the halls looking for cookies around 3pm daily.

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