One thing that can certainly be nerve racking for any business owner is having an inspection performed by OSHA. If you fail the inspection, you will receive a citation and be forced to pay a sizable fine. According to OSHA’s website, fines above $40,000 are not unheard of. It’s best to make sure that doesn’t happen. Below are some steps you should take to prepare your office for an OSHA inspection.
Have Safety Documentation in Order
One thing an OSHA inspector will certainly be looking for is the proper documentation. This should include documentation of your company’s safety plan as well as safety records going back at least five years. This documentation should also be readily available for the inspector if he or she wishes to view the files. If you don’t actually have a safety plan in place, you better contact a lawyer immediately and draft one up that will meet OSHA standards.
Check Your Electrical System
One part of an office you may have forgotten to give good consideration in the wake of a coming OSHA inspection is the electrical system. If you suspect there are serious problems, you may want to have an electrician give your offices a look over. Things that can result in marks against you during an inspection include frayed wiring, poorly wired receptacles, incorrectly wired subpanels and more. Have all problems fixed beforehand. Not only would it jeopardize your OSHA inspection, it’s also the safe thing to do. According to Electrical Safety Foundation International, electrical fires result in $1.3 billion in building damage annually.
Check Your Carpets
The carpeting in your office may be something you never thought of in regards to OSHA safety standards. However, you can indeed receive a citation for carpeting under certain circumstances. Dirty carpets can pose significant health risks. They can grow mites, carpet beetles, lice, bacteria and fungus. Dirty carpets also collect dust which can be a serious threat to anyone with allergies. Overall, address any issues through the use of carpet cleaners so precaution is taken to remove all possible threats. Professionals can do a much more thorough job than you can on your own. Using precaution to remove all contaminants and infestations can insure you pass this part of an office OSHA inspection.
Examine the Wood in Your Office
Another possibility you may have not considered in regards to breaking OSHA standards is a termite infestation. If evidence of termites is found within your office, you can expect to receive a citation. Take preemptive action and inspect all the exposed wood in your building as well as your wooden office furniture for signs of termite damage. If you find damage, take action to fix it. Replacing some of the wood or repairing wood furniture won’t be too costly. Better yet, cabinet refinishing for termites will remove all visible damage. The OSHA inspector won’t suspect a thing.
Inspect Your Entire Building for Hazards
One mistake many business owners make is assuming that an OSHA inspector will only check a location where a workplace injury occurred. Keep in mind that there is a strong likelihood that the entire building will be inspected. While you should certainly do a good job to make sure the office space is up to code, you also need to check all other rooms and spaces in the building the inspector could go to. This means checking broom closets, the basement, accessible crawl space and more. Look for potential hazards and take immediate action to remove them.
Make Sure You Are Ready to Meet the Inspector
An inspection by OSHA will require a representative of your company on hand to meet the inspector, answer questions and guide him or her through the building. This task should only be handed to someone competent that is trained on how properly speak with the inspector and how to act during the inspection. An OSHA inspector should never be lied to. However, you don’t want that employee divulging any information that isn’t specifically asked for. It can be a delicate balancing act.
Overall, passing an OSHA inspection means removing all hazards and being prepared. As soon as you are alerted of a coming inspection, you should do everything in your power to insure that your company meets OSHA standards. You should also be meeting OSHA standards regardless of if there will be an inspection or not. It’s the right thing to do.
Lee Flynn is a freelance writer. Through small local workshops and articles, Lee trains and teaches others on home preparation, healthy living, food storage techniques, and self reliance.