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OSHA Inspections

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is committed to strong, fair and effective enforcement of safety and health requirements in the workplace, OSHA inspectors, called compliance safety and health officers, are experienced, well-trained industrial hygienists and safety professionals whose goal is to assure compliance with OSHA requirements and help employers and workers reduce on the job hazards and prevent injuries, illnesses and deaths in the workplace.

Normally OSha conducts inspections without advance notice. Employers have the right to require compliance officers to obtain an inspection warrant before entering the worksite.

Inspection Priorities
OSHA cannot inspect all 7 million workplaces it covers each year. The agency seeks to focus its inspection resources on the most hazardous workplaces in the following order of priority:

1. Imminent danger situations - hazards that could cause death or serious physical harm- receive top priority. Comlpliance officers will ask employers to correct these hazards immediately- or remove endangered employees.

2. Fatalities and catastrophes - incidents that involves a death or the hospitalization of three or more employees come next. Employers must report such catastrophes to OSHA within 8 hours.

3. Complaints - allegations of hazard or violations also receive a high priority. Employees may request anonymity when they file complaints.

4. Referrals of hazard information from other federal state or local agencies, individuals, organizations or the media receive consideration for inspection.

5. Follow-ups - checks for abatement of violations cited during previous inspection- are also conducted by the agency in certain circumstances.

6. Planned programmed investigations- inspections aimed at specific high-hazard industries or individual workplaces that have experienced high rates of injuries and illnesses- also receive priority.
Phone/Fax Investigations
OSHA carefully prioritizes all complaints it receives based on their severity. For lower priority hazards, with permission of a complainant, OSHA may telephone the employer to describe safety and health concerns, following up with a fax providing details on alledged safety and health hazards. The employer must respond in writing within five working days, identifying any problems found and noting corrective actions taken or planned. If the response is adequate and the complainant satisfied with the response, OSHA generally will not conduct an on-site inspection.

Onsite Inspections
Preparation- Before conducting an inspection, OSHA compliance officers research the inspection history of a worksite using various data sources, review the operarations and processes in use and the standards most likely to apply. They gather appropriate personal protective equipment and testing instruments to measure potential hazards.

Presentationof credentials- The onsite inspection begins with the presentation of the compliance officer's credentials, which include both a photograph and a serial number.

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