As an owner of a contracting business, you are expected to maintain certain levels of safety for yourself and anyone who works in the area. On occasion, OSHA may decide to conduct unannounced visits in certain regions based on injury reports and other data. You’ll be better off if you know what to do. Here are a few factors to keep in mind.
Keep Organized Records
One of the best things that you can do in advance of a visit from OSHA is to keep organized records about your daily activities. For example, if you have a specific interval for conducting safety drills or training sessions, you should have a verifiable record of those activities. In the event of accidents or injuries, you should follow all local guidelines for handling and reporting them. That way, if you are ever in a situation where an OSHA inspector shows up to your business unexpectedly, you do not have to scramble to provide them with information on their request.
Stay Current on Safety Regulations
It may seem like it goes without saying that as a business owner, you should stay current on all safety regulations related to your field. But the reason that some businesses get surprise OSHA inspections may be related to the way that they follow safety regulations. Keep in mind that the rules might change throughout your construction career. Formulate a plan to ensure that your employees receive adequate training, and participate in regular drills and safety audits. That makes it easier to confirm that your team is actually doing the work in a way that is most likely to minimize injury.
Designate a Point of Contact
If you have a business with a handful of employees, you should consider designating at least one person to be a point of contact for an OSHA inspector. This person should have access to your businesses policies and procedures, as well as detailed company records. They should be able to answer questions from the inspector about any activity relating to your business. It’s worth keeping in mind that, even if your business is very small, you may need a second person who can serve as a backup. In other words, you might expect to be this contact at all times, but you won’t always have a guarantee that you can be there at the time. You should have someone who can fill that role for you.
Ask for Information
When any visitor arrives at your place of business or at a job site, it’s routine to ask them for evidence that they have a logical and legal reason to be there, as well as the purpose for the visit. If someone arrives and says that they have been sent by OSHA to perform an inspection, you should ask them for identification and any other relevant documentation. Before they conduct the inspection, you may have an opportunity to speak with them about the reason for their visit. At that time, you should also notify your employees about the visit, so that they are aware that there is an inspector on-site.
Be Present During an Inspection
It’s easy to get nervous about an unexpected OSHA inspection, but it’s best if you stay in the moment. Inspectors perform inspections as a way of identifying possible risks or to gather information about past events. You will have a better result if you:
- Participate fully during the inspection
- Answer questions completely and honestly
- Avoid trying to offer unnecessary information
If you’re not sure what you should or should not do, it’s a good idea to consult a lawyer about your rights and responsibilities. This won’t guarantee that you can avoid receiving a citation. But if you cooperate reasonably, you can minimize future trouble for yourself and your business.
OSHA inspections can be a source of anxiety, but they may happen at various points throughout your construction career. To learn more about what you can do to build a safe contracting business, contact CSLS today!