Who can be inspected by OSHA?

Almost every business in the United States can be inspected by OSHA without advanced notice, and these OSHA inspections are conducted throughout the year to help protect the safety and health of workers.

OSHA does not perform inspections on the self-employed, workplaces already monitored by another federal agency (e.g. the Federal Aviation Administration), and the immediate family members of farm employers that do not hire outside employment.

With millions of workplaces to inspect, OSHA prioritizes its inspections in the following order:

Situations of Imminent Danger

OSHA places top priority on inspecting potentially deadly or otherwise serious hazards. Situations of imminent danger include hazards that pose the threat of serious harm, death, or health hazards that, with exposure, could cause a reduction in physical or mental efficiency or shorten one’s life.

If these situations are found during an inspection, employers will be asked to immediately correct the hazard or remove all endangered employees.

Situations Involving Fatalities or Catastrophes

Workplaces that have reported incidents involving fatalities or the hospitalization of three or more employees are the next to be inspected. In the event of a workplace fatality or catastrophe, employers must alert OSHA within 8 hours.

Workplace Complaints

These complaints of safety violations and hazards in the workplace can be reported anonymously by any employee. It is illegal for employers to discriminate against a worker who filed a complaint or used other OSHA rights.

Inspections by Referral

If another federal, state, or local agency, an individual, an organization, or the media notifies OSHA to suspected violations or hazards, then the inspection process is focused on the workplace in question. If the referral describes situations of imminent danger, then the inspection is further prioritized.

Follow-Up Inspections

Follow-ups on previous inspections are prioritized for the safety of workers. These inspections are executed to ensure that cited hazards have been addressed properly.

Planned Inspections

Some industries have inherently high rates of injury or illness due to safety hazards, and these industries are prioritized with planned inspections. Businesses within the oil and gas drilling industry, boat and ship building industry, and metal fabrication industry, among others, typically have high rates of injury and have inspections prioritized for this reason.

These situations listed receive a higher priority over workplaces that do not have as serious hazards or as high a rate of incidents. For certain lower-priority complaints, OSHA can schedule an inspection by phone with the permission of the complainant. If OSHA is satisfied with the response of their phone inspection, an on-site inspection may not be necessary.

Source: Ocupational Safety Health Administration (OSHA) Inspections

What happens during an OSHA inspection?

During an OSHA, inspectors will review previous records, inspect potential on-site hazards, and interview employees. OSHA’s inspections are prioritized by how potentially hazardous a workplace might be to workers. Learn more here.

What do I need to pass an OSHA inspection?

There are many elements of a safe workplace that factor into passing an OSHA inspection. Dependent on your industry, the posting of official safety signs, use of protective equipment, and proper training could help in successfully passing an inspection. Learn more here.

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