Does your company have a process for if and when any government agency shows up for an inspection? If you don’t, we suggest you add this to your priority list for the end of this year because many regulatory agencies are increasing their compliance efforts. What are your staff members expected to do? Who will they contact? Will your organization present a calm, confident air to the inspector, or is there apt to be mass hysteria throughout the office? Preparation is the key.
If you do have an established process, make sure to retrain staff periodically on their responsibilities and review the plan – perhaps even role-play different scenarios – with all applicable staff members. Make sure that more than one manager is educated on your organization’s processes so there is always someone knowledgeable on the premises. There are three aspects to your preparation:
- Plan in advance. As mentioned above, advance planning and communication can go a long way to a less stressful inspection.
- Manage the inspection. For this step you need to ask yourself, “Why is OSHA here?” The compliance officer needs to communicate to you: an applicable standard; a hazard; employee exposure; and that you, as the employer, knew of the violation or hazard, or should have known of it with the exercise of “reasonable diligence.”
- Be informed. Don’t just accept citations or a penalty reduction. If you have legitimate disputes for a citation or penalty, don’t miss the informal conference to defend your case. For more in-depth reading on any of these issues, check out this helpful article.