OSHA Inspection Priorities

The following is an excerpt taken from OSHA Fact Sheet DEP FS-3783.

OSHA inspectors 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. Since OSHA cannot inspect all 7 million workplaces it covers each year, the agency focuses 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. Compliance officers will ask employers to correct these hazards immediately or remove endangered employees.

2. Severe injuries and illnesses—employers must report:

  • All work-related fatalities within 8 hours.
  • All work-related inpatient hospitalizations, amputations, or losses of an eye within 24 hours.

3. Worker complaints—allegations of hazards or violations also receive a high priority. Employees may request anonymity when they file complaints.

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

5. Targeted inspections—inspections aimed at specific high-hazard industries or individual workplaces that have experienced high rates of injuries and illnesses also receive priority.

6. Follow-up inspections—checks for abatement of violations cited during previous inspections are also conducted by the agency in certain circumstances.

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

Click here for a full PDF version of OSHA Fact Sheet DEP FS-3783.


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